On a pleasant evening in early March, as the light grew dim, a college student dressed in a white shirt and khaki shorts distributed biscuits to a group of children who had gathered outside the Ram temple in Bhairav Nagar, Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh. Dhanush, a six-year-old, touched a biscuit to his eyes as if it was prasad from a temple, before eating it. He and the other children were attending the first anniversary celebrations of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh shakha at Bhairav Nagar. There were about 200 young people gathered there—school children from surrounding villages and students from a polytechnic government college.
The student volunteers from the polytechnic college drew chalk lines in the soil to demarcate the three groups of people attending the event: the speakers (two senior swayamsevaks and a polytechnic college lecturer), the swayamsevaks who would be demonstrating the vyayam, or the exercise drill, and the audience.
The event began with about twenty swayamsewaks from the polytechnic college, placing themselves in a formation of four rows. They did the gaja namaskara, a prayer offered to the stalwarts of the RSS and to Mother India, an exercise drill, yoga and karate.
The chief guest and the first speaker was Ramakrishna, a lecturer from the polytechnic college who was a former swayamsewak. He began, "We should serve the people. This was what Dr Godse…" he paused and corrected himself, “…this was what Dr Hedgewar explained.”
His speech was followed by a volunteer’s song: "I will become the light in a lamp and burn for my country. My decency and my culture are paths to a new life. With the memories of yesteryear's glory, I will respond," he sang in Telugu.