World Falun Dafa Day in New York Begins With Exercises, Musical Performances

By Larry Ong, Epoch Times
May 11, 2017 2:57 pm Last Updated: May 19, 2017 3:51 pm

NEW YORK—Nearly a thousand Falun Dafa practitioners converged on Union Square’s north plaza on May 11 to kickstart World Falun Dafa Day festivities in New York City. It was an occasion to entertain, meditate, and introduce this practice to those passing by.  

Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong, is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that involves four standing exercises and a sitting meditation. Core to Falun Dafa are the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, which practitioners strive to live by.

Practitioners in New York and around the world usually hold activities around May 13 to mark World Falun Dafa Day. Falun Dafa founder Mr. Li Hongzhi first publicly taught the practice on May 13, 1992.

Falun Dafa practitioners mediate during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Falun Dafa practitioners meditate during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

More than 10,000 practitioners from 57 countries and regions will be participating in various Falun Dafa events around New York from May 11 to May 14.

On a crisp Wednesday morning, over 600 practitioners dressed in yellow and blue jackets assembled in Union Square to perform Falun Dafa exercises for about two hours. The practitioners were mostly from New York and New Jersey, but were joined by others from China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Finland, Israel, Russia, and other countries.

Slightly after 12 noon, a band conductor raised her mace, and the local Tian Guo Marching Band played the first of four tunes. Musical performances by a choir, and solo instruments such as the pipa (often called the Chinese lute), guitar, keyboard, and oboe followed the band’s performance.

A Falun Gong dragon dance team performs at the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
A Falun Gong dragon dance team performs at the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

The musical numbers were interspersed with two performances by an energetic golden dragon dance team, as well as lion dances.

Throughout the Union Square event, practitioners positioned themselves around the plaza and passed out flyers explaining Falun Dafa.

18 Years of Persecution

Practitioners were also gathering signatures for a petition by the non-governmental organization Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) which calls on the Chinese regime to stop killing Falun Dafa practitioners to supply its lucrative organ trade.

Former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin had vowed to eliminate Falun Dafa in China, and launched a persecution campaign on July 20, 1999. Practitioners who survive the Chinese regime’s detention centers and prisons recount that they are subjected to routine blood testing. This testing has no apparent connection to any medical treatment—those detained are often subject to torture. The blood testing, researchers say, is strong evidence supporting claims that the regime is carrying out forced, live organ harvesting.

The persecution of Falun Dafa is “definitely wrong,” said Ronald Woodhead, a television series actor who walked past Union Square and signed the DAFOH petition.

Television actor Ronald Woolhead (L) poses with a Falun Dafa practitioner at Union Square, New York, on May 11, 2017. (Caroline Zhang/The Epoch TImes)
Television actor Ronald Woolhead (L) poses with a Falun Dafa practitioner at Union Square, New York, on May 11, 2017. (Caroline Zhang/The Epoch TImes)

Woodhead had first learned about Falun Dafa in Germany, where he lived for two years. Woodhead was deeply impressed by practitioners peacefully protesting the Chinese regime outside the Chinese consulate in Munich, where his apartment was closely situated.

“Falun Dafa harms no one and is very peaceful,” he said. “People need to support” the practice.

Andy Chen, an IT manager who works for a company near Union Square, had stopped to observe the practitioners slowly move their arms in circular motions for one of Falun Dafa’s standing exercises.

Chen had learned about the practice from the regime’s anti-Falun Dafa propaganda, which was spread both inside mainland China and overseas. After parsing the facts and spotting the loopholes in the regime’s propaganda, Chen realized what was really going on.

“The Chinese regime is only interested in materialism, money, power, and control,” said Chen, a staunch Christian who immigrated to the United States from China about two decades ago. “Of course the regime opposes Falun Dafa, a traditional, spiritual practice that awakens people’s compassion, and uplifts their morality.”

A Quarter Century of Falun Gong

Jiang Zemin’s persecution campaign persists today. But that Falun Dafa has survived the Chinese regime’s onslaught “is impressive and amounts to a genuine failure of the party’s repressive apparatus,” according to a 2017 Freedom House report on religious freedom in China.

In the twenty-fifth year since its introduction, Falun Dafa continues to thrive.

Hanh Nguyen, a practitioner from Vietnam with a pink knit scarf and ponytail, was one of several practitioners gathering signatures for the DAFOH petition at Union Square. She had picked up Falun Dafa after being introduced to the practice by a customer of her former company.

Hanh Nguyen, a Falun Dafa practitioner from Vietnam, in Union Square, New York City on May 11, 2017. (Xie Dongyan/The Epoch Times)
Hanh Nguyen, a Falun Dafa practitioner from Vietnam, in Union Square, New York City on May 11, 2017. (Xie Dongyan/The Epoch Times)

“I feel very relaxed after doing the sitting meditation,” she said. Vietnam has over 20,000 practitioners, according to Hanh.

Young practitioners have also found Falun Dafa to be very helpful in curbing the bad habits of modern living.

Roman Ponomarev, 23, learned the exercises from his father in 2007, but practiced only half-heartedly. Two years later, he decided to read “Zhuan Falun,” the main text of Falun Dafa, and was drawn to the teachings, which includes principles like first looking internally when problems arise instead of blaming others.

Roman Ponomarev, a Falun Dafa practitioner from Russia, in Union Square, New York City on May 11, 2017. (Xie Dongyan/The Epoch Times)
Roman Ponomarev, a Falun Dafa practitioner from Russia, in Union Square, New York City on May 11, 2017. (Xie Dongyan/The Epoch Times)

Within half a year, Ponomarev found himself cured of asthma. He also gave up smoking, drinking, and playing video games, and strives instead to be more truthful, compassionate, and tolerant in his daily life.

“Because there are so many practitioners in New York now, it’s a good time for New Yorkers to get a feel for the practice and find out what Falun Dafa is all about,” he said.

2017 World Falun Dafa Day events list

Thursday, May 11, 5:00pm-8:00pm: Candlelight vigil outside the Chinese consulate in New York.

Friday, May 12, 9:00 am-2:00pm: Rally at United Nations headquarters (47th Street & Second Avenue), followed by a parade from the U.N. to the Chinese consulate.

The parade will be streamed live on New Tang Dynasty Television’s Facebook page.

Saturday, May 13, 9:00am-1:00pm: A “Truth Wall” demonstration in Chinatown and Brooklyn, with exercise practices in Times Square parks across Manhattan, including Bandshell Central Park, Bowling Green Park, and Battery Park.

Caroline Zhang contributed to this article.

Falun Dafa practitioners participate in a World Falun Dafa Day activity at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Falun Dafa practitioners participate in a World Falun Dafa Day activity at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Falun Dafa practitioners participate at the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
A young Falun Dafa practitioner participates at the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

The divine Land MArching Band performs during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
The divine Land Marching Band performs during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)

 

 

 

A Falun Dafa practitioner distributes origami lotus flowers to passerby.  (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
A Falun Dafa practitioner distributes origami lotus flowers to passerby. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Lleana Feng plays the Oboe during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Lleana Feng plays the Oboe during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)

Falun Dafa practitioners participate in a World Falun Dafa Day activity at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
A Falun Gong dragon dance team performs at the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Little girls react after watching the Falun Dafa dragon dance team perform. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Little girls react after watching the Falun Dafa dragon dance team perform. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Katy Mantyk and Nemanja Rebic sing a song about the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners inside China during the World Falun Dafa Day event held at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Katy Mantyk and Nemanja Rebic sing a song about the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners inside China during the World Falun Dafa Day event held at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

A Falun Dafa practitioner distributes origami lotus flowers to children during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
A Falun Dafa practitioner distributes origami lotus flowers to children during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

A woman plays the flute during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
A woman plays the flute during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Dancers from San Cai Academy of the Arts perform at the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Dancers from San Cai Academy of the Arts perform at the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Spectators at the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Spectators at the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

 

Two woman take selfies during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Two woman take selfies during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

A Falun Dafa practitioner distributes origami lotus flowers to passerby. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
A Falun Dafa practitioner distributes origami lotus flowers to passerby. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

People perform the Falun Dafa exercises during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)
People perform the Falun Dafa exercises during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)

Jia Ge and Le Le play the Chinese traditional pipa instrument during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Jia Ge and Le Le play the Chinese traditional pipa instrument during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

 

A choir of Falun Dafa practitioners sing at the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)
A choir of Falun Dafa practitioners sing at the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)

Yuan Yuan, a young violin soloist performs during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Yuan Yuan, a young violin soloist performs during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Yue Dai plays the hulusi, an ethnic instrument made of gourd and bamboo, during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Yue Dai plays the hulusi, an ethnic instrument made of gourd and bamboo, during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

A lion dance team performs during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
A lion dance team performs during the World Falun Dafa Day event at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)

Falun Dafa practitioners celebrate World Falun Dafa Day at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Falun Dafa practitioners gathered from around the world to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day at Union Square, New York City, on May 11, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)