NEW YORK—Twenty-one years after its introduction to the public in China, Falun Dafa is flourishing around the world. The mind-body meditation discipline is practiced by an estimated 100 million people.
Falun Dafa, an ancient practice of the Buddhist tradition passed down from master to disciple for generations, was introduced to the public on May 13, 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center. The core of the practice are the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, and a set of five gentle, meditative exercises.
Several hundred Falun Dafa practitioners gathered in Lower Manhattan’s Foley Square on May 12, where they demonstrated Falun Dafa’s exercises and meditation alongside colorful banners, followed by Chinese music performances, and the crowd-pleasing dragon and lion dances. They gathered in honor of the 14th annual Falun Dafa Day, a tradition that began after the Chinese regime began its persecution of the practice in 1999.
Bo Huang, a 37-year-old medical assistant, is a Falun Dafa practitioner from Mainland China who now lives in Flushing, Queens. The first time he heard about Falun Dafa Day was after the persecution of Falun Gong had started.
“At that time China already began the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners,” said Huang, who was at the Manhattan event on Sunday. “[When] I heard the news about Falun Dafa Day, I knew the whole world was supporting Falun Dafa practitioners. I was so excited.”
The persecution of the practice in China has led to thousands of deaths due to torture, and hundreds of thousands of illegal arrests, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center. Those detained are typically subjected to brainwashing and torture. This violation of freedom of belief in China still continues today.
For Huang, Falun Dafa Day means that people around the world understand and support Falun Dafa practitioners. For practitioners inside China, the Communist Party’s control over the media, and the Party’s use of the media to defame Falun Gong in justification of its torture of practitioners, means it is difficult for Chinese people to know what is happening outside China.
“Even though we’ve been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party, we still have hope,” said Huang, who has been practicing Falun Dafa for almost 19 years. “We will let a lot of people know the truth, and justice will come because most people will choose the right way and support us.”
Sunday’s event included a musical performance by the Divine Land Marching Band, Chinese dragon and lion dancing, Tibetan dancing, and a series of Chinese instrumental solo performances, which included the traditional Chinese instruments, the pipa and the guzheng.