NEW YORK—Around 2,000 adherents of Falun Dafa, a traditional spiritual practice, joined in a grand parade through the streets of Manhattan on Friday, May 11.
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a practice of 5 slow exercises and at its core is based on 3 simple principles—truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Today it is practiced by tens of millions in over 70 countries worldwide.
The bustling parade that started at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations and ended at the Chinese Consulate on 43rd St, is the highlight of events organized this week to mark the day when Falun Dafa (or Falun Gong) was first introduced to the public by Mr. Li Hongzhi in Changchun, China. May 13 is also Mr. Li’s birthday.
Many of the participants donned yellow or blue T-shirts and sweaters with the words “Falun Dafa is Good” in Chinese and English. The grand spectacle caught the attention of many busy New Yorkers who whipped out their phones to record the passing marching band, dragon dances, drum corps, floats, balloons, banners, and more.
All Walks of Life
Many of the parade’s participants come from a diverse range of backgrounds and countries. But they all have one thing in common—the practice has drastically changed their lives.
Simon Vereshaka, originally from Australia, has lived in the United States for 9 years now. He said that when he first started reading Zhuan Falun (the main text of Falun Dafa) it changed his life, almost immediately.
“I had kidney pains, I had spine pain, I had joint pains in my body and liver pain. I used to do Tai Chi to relieve it, but once I got Falun Dafa, within about 3 weeks just everything was lifted and all gone from my body,” he said.
The spiritual practice seems to attract many who were lost and looking for a deeper meaning to life.
Rong Yi, a former Chinese diplomat found answers to those questions in Falun Dafa.
“I was looking for a spiritual practice since a very young age. When I was in school at Harvard University I found a flyer called Falun Gong in the library, after learning this I found it’s what I’ve been looking for,” she said.
“I totally changed because I found the meaning of life, that’s what I was looking for. My life turned out to be more bright and very meaningful,” Yi said. She has been living in the United States since 1995.
Others like Yulia Zhirnova, originally from Russia, experienced major changes in her health after taking up Falun Dafa.
“I was looking actually for things that were alternative medicine, I couldn’t really find anything that worked for a long time and when I started practicing Falun Dafa, within a month there was a huge transformation.”
Aside from the physical changes, the core principles of the practice also help to bring a sense of peacefulness, according to local practitioner Jacob Zocco.
Zocco discovered the practice after first studying martial arts and finding other qigong practices before coming across Falun Dafa.
“I was actually into studying martial arts and then I found some qigong and then I was looking for more qigong practices. In my search I found Falun Gong,” he said. “Those 3 principles just made the quality of my life so much better, brought so much more harmony for my life. It just made my life 100 percent better.”
Olli Torma, originally from Finland, also found many benefits in the practice. He said he found it “incredibly powerful” after a friend of his first introduced it to him in Finland.
“It completely changed the way I think of these kinds of practices and I found it so incredibly powerful. I think it’s an extremely ethical practice and it’s extremely effective,” he said.
“Physically and mentally it’s made me a lot better, a different person almost.”
Torma, who has been living in the United States for three years now, said that after learning Falun Dafa, he has “never looked back.”