NEW YORK, New York — A large annual parade by adherents of the traditional Chinese cultivation discipline Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa (法輪大法), coursed through central Manhattan on Friday, May 12, featuring a wide variety of banners, music, artistic performances, and other displays.
Falun Gong practitioners have regularly held annual parades in New York and other cities to raise awareness about their faith and the persecution it suffers in mainland China under the communist regime.
According to a report by The Epoch Times, around 5,000 people took part in this year’s New York parade, which began at 11 a.m. on the eastern side of Manhattan at the Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza near the U.N. Headquarters. The parade made its way to 42nd Street, proceeding across one of New York’s busiest district before concluding in the early afternoon at 11th Avenue near the other half of the Hudson River.
May 13 marks the 31st anniversary since Falun Dafa, a Buddhist-school qigong practice, was first taught to the Chinese public by Master Li Hongzhi in 1992. His spiritual teachings center on cultivating one’s character in line with the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance (真善忍), as well as several sets of meditation exercises. Tens of millions of people took up Falun Gong in the 1990s as people around China credited it with improving their health and morality.
The Chinese government was also supportive of Falun Gong, and various authorities and officials lauded it for its contributions to society. But in July 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a bloody persecution campaign against Falun Gong and its adherents, with then-regime leader Jiang Zemin claiming that allowing the practice to keep spreading in China would make a mockery of the Party’s Marxism and atheism.
In addition to publicizing Falun Gong itself, much of the parade focused on calling for an end to the persecution, as well as calling out the CCP for its tyranny, suppression of human rights, and malicious ideology.
On April 25, the State of New York had passed a legislative resolution in recognition of the World Falun Dafa Day celebration.
The resolution, sponsored or co-sponsored by state senators Dean Murray, Jack M. Martins, Thomas F. O’Mara, James Skoufis, Mark Walczyk, and James Tedisco, commemorated May 13 as a day on which Falun Gong practitioners “celebrate the teachings which have brought physical health, joy, and peace of mind to millions of people across the globe.”
The resolution also declared the state legislature “justly proud” in commemorating the annual event, which is the 24th since Falun Gong practitioners began celebrating it in 1999.