Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

Why Millions of People Celebrate May 13 as World Falun Dafa Day

Published: May 12, 2024
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade through central Manhattan, NY, on May 10, 2024 to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day. The parade, which this year marks 32 years since the spiritual practice was publicly taught in China, has become an annual event with thousands of participants. (Image: via

Every spring, thousands of people, most of them dressed in yellow, march through the streets of Manhattan in a parade that bisects the island widthwise along 42nd St, starting in the east and ending in the west a block away from the Hudson River.

They are adherents of Falun Dafa (法輪大法), also known as Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual way practiced by millions around the world. A cultivation system of the Buddhist school, Falun Gong includes meditation exercises and teaches moral self-improvement in accordance with the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance (真善忍).

While rooted in a spiritual tradition stretching thousands of years into China’s past, May 13, 2024 marks the 32nd year since Falun Dafa was first publicly taught in 1992 by Master Li Hongzhi.

From the first class held in Changchun, Northeast China, where 180 people were in attendance on May 13, 1992, Master Li gave lecture series across the country almost non-stop for two years, instructing hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life.

Falun Gong practitioners meditating in public in Guangzhou in 1998, before the Communist Party banned the spiritual group in 1999. Such sessions remain forbidden. (Image:

One of many qigong, or meditative spiritual practices that were popular in China at the time for their health benefits, Falun Gong stood out in that it stressed the need for practitioners to genuinely temper their character and will amidst the hardships of life — taking lightly the various attachments and desires of worldly existence — in order to experience true physical and psychological betterment.

The spread of Falun Dafa

Master Li’s teachings caught on rapidly, spreading across China largely by word of mouth. Millions found that Falun Gong indeed brought them both health and happiness; a 1998 study surveyed over 12,000 adherents in Beijing and found that 80 percent experienced physical improvement while 96.5 percent perceived a positive change in mental state. Most of those in the study had suffered from disease prior to taking up the practice; just 6.6 percent of the study group reported no physical ailments to begin with.

“Falun,” meaning “wheel of law,” is depicted in the emblem of Falun Dafa, which incorporates the Buddhist srivatsa and the taiji plate of the Chinese Daoist tradition.

Over 5,000 Falun Gong practitioners participate in an image and character formation in China in 1998. (Image:

Countless testimonies by practitioners described the miraculous changes they experienced as a result of taking up cultivation in Dafa, which can be translated as the “Great Law” or “Great Way.”

Master Li received commendations and awards from various state bodies, including the Chinese Ministry of Public Security. Among those cultivating Falun Dafa were high-ranking members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and military.

By 1998, the Chinese estimated that there were between 70 million and 100 million people practicing Falun Gong. The next February, a Chinese official with the State Sports Commission told the U.S. News & World Report of how China’s then-Premier Zhu Rongji praised “Falun Gong and other types of qigong” for improving the Chinese people’s health, reducing the burden on the developing country’s economic resources.


Falun Gong became popular at a time when China was experiencing great changes. The country was entering the global economic system after decades of isolation under communist dictator Mao Zedong, with the Party having decided on “reforms and opening up” in the 1980s.

But the CCP held firmly onto its political power. In 1989, thousands of students protesting for democracy were gunned down in the streets of Tiananmen. By 1999, then-Party boss Jiang Zemin — himself having taken a hardline approach to the democracy movement when he was mayor of Shanghai — felt that Falun Gong and its adherents posed an even greater threat to the communist regime.

Falun Gong practitioners appeal before Zhongnanhai on April 25, 1999, in response to growing pressure from the CCP. Three months later, the persecution of Falun Gong formally began. (Image:

Jiang claimed that such a popular spiritual belief spreading across China was a dire challenge to the atheist Marxism of the CCP, and would lead to the “the fall of the Party and the fall of the state,” as related by insiders in elite circles at the time.

By June 1999, bypassing the rest of the senior Party leadership, Jiang had ordered the creation of a special task group to handle the Falun Gong “problem.” In July, police across China sprang into action, arresting and incarcerating thousands of people.

In the years that followed, millions of people would be jailed for practicing Falun Gong. Thousands have been confirmed to have died from the now 25 years of repression, with the true number yet impossible to determine due to the CCP’s strict control of information. Growing evidence implicates the Communist Party in mass-murdering Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience to harvest and sell their organs.


According to Master Li’s teachings, cultivators of Falun Dafa must hold themselves to a high moral standard. Despite the brutality visited upon them by the Chinese authorities, adherents in China still number in the millions, according to a 2017 report by Freedom House. They have not resorted to violence, instead speaking out in various ways to clarify the facts about their faith and the repression they suffer.

Many encourage their fellow Chinese to recognize the tyranny of the Communist Party and distance themselves from its ideology — a civic movement known as “Tuidang,” or “to quit the Party.” To date, over 400 million Chinese have renounced the oaths they made to the CCP to lay down their lives in struggle for it.

Falun Gong practitioners taking part in the May 10, 2024 parade through Manhattan, NY, hold a banner raising awareness about the tyranny of the CCP. (Image: via

Outside China, Falun Gong is freely practiced in over 100 countries, and the teachings translated into dozens of languages. Experience sharings written by practitioners of all races and backgrounds describe the benefit they have obtained in setting themselves on the road of spiritual cultivation.

Since the year 2000, Falun Gong practitioners around the world have celebrated May 13 as World Falun Dafa Day. It is a time for them to express their gratitude to the Great Way and its founder, as well as to make Falun Dafa known to others and demonstrate steadfastness in the face of daunting repression.