(Minghui.org) An estimated 5,000 Falun Dafa practitioners held a grand parade in Manhattan on Friday May 12, 2023 to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day, the 31st anniversary of the public introduction of the practice and the founder, Master Li’s birthday. Residents and tourists alike watched the celebrations and welcomed the parade.
Prior to that, on Sunday May 7, practitioners celebrated the occasion at Union Square with group exercises, music and dance.
There were three themes in the parade: The spread of Falun Dafa around the world, stop the persecution in China and supporting 410 million Chinese citizens who have withdrawn from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its affiliated organisations. Participants in the parade include veteran practitioners who have been practicing for 30 years, new practitioners who took up the practice a few months ago, elderly people in their 80s and young practitioners in kindergarten.
Some spectators said they wanted to learn Falun Dafa and read Zhuan Falun. They said Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance are important to the world. Practitioners handed out materials and tiny lotus flowers with the words “Falun Dafa is great” along the route.
High School Teacher in China Wishes Master Li Happy Birthday
Zhai Deyun, who came to the U.S. last November, is a high school teacher in China. He stood along the road in Times Square watching the parade. When he saw the banner with the words, Nine Commentaries on the Chinese Communist Party, he said the book did a great job exposing the nine major characteristics of the regime. He hopes the publication will resonate with people around the world and that it is added to teaching curriculums in primary and secondary schools all over the world so that children can recognise how evil communism is.
He said, “Although I am not a Falun Dafa practitioner, I want to say this to the founder Master Li: ‘I thank you from the bottom of my heart and wish you Happy Birthday!’”
Pointing at the parade contingent, Zhai said, “Look, all of them are Chinese. Yet in America they can enjoy such a practice and have no fear. I saw several kids in the parade wearing traditional Chinese costumes, this is the true Chinese civilisation, the pride of the Chinese people. I am moved! I hope Chinese culture can spread around the world. Thank you Falun Dafa practitioners for your hard work. Through this parade, we also see that the CCP, no matter how evil it is, is powerless against the force of justice. This parade is the best evidence.”
I Want to Be One of You
Mr. Liang, a Chinese who came to the U.S. a few months ago, said, “I’ve dreamed of taking part in a Falun Dafa parade. It is something I looked forward to for a long time. I want to practice Falun Dafa. I bought the books already, I want to be one of you. I think what Falun Dafa teaches is the universal truth. Seeing the uplifting demeanor of practitioners cheers me up. I want to attend such activities every time.”
He said, “Many people have woken up. I belong to the group that actively seeks out the truth. I circumvented the Internet firewall when I was in China. I have been thinking, some people neglected the truth but I did not.”
I Hope Chinese Citizens Can Have This Freedom
Song Yanjie, who just arrived in the U.S., joined in the parade. She said with tears in her eyes, “I am finally free now that I am in America. I am not afraid to voice my thoughts. I joined the parade and saw Chinese nationals achieve freedom in this country. I am filled with emotion. I hope that one day, Chinese people can have this freedom in China.”
She also said, “Falun Dafa promotes Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance, this is wonderful and positive. All the CCP does is spread lies. We escaped our home land because we had enough of the government’s lies and hypocrisy. We came here in search of freedom.”
Chinese Man Born in the 90s Wants to Practice Falun Dafa
Mr. Pan, who was born in the 1990s, came to the U.S. this March. He said his landlady is a Falun Dafa practitioner and through her he learned the truth about the persecution in China. He also saw a Shen Yun performance and participated in the parade today. He said that Falun Dafa practitioners have inherited the essence of ancient Eastern culture and has had a huge influence in the world, helping people understand China.
In addition, Falun Dafa practitioners are a group of people who uphold high moral standards, justice and conscience. They improve the image of Chinese people internationally. In spite of the brutal suppression in China, they continue to be steadfast in their faith and bravely spread the truth.
He also spoke of his experience learning Falun Dafa. His landlady taught him the meditation exercise and he was able to sit with both legs up the first time. Reading Master Li’s recent articles “How Humankind Came to Be” and “Why Save Sentient Beings” made him understand that cultivation of oneself is the foundation, and saving people is the responsibility of practitioners.
Mr. Tong, who was also born in the 1990s and is Mr. Pan’s roommate, came to the U.S. in April. He also praised their landlady as a good person and he learned many facts from her. Her kindness made him realise the importance of having a belief and he decided to practice cultivation as well. He joined in the celebrations that day and just finished a video call with his family in China so that they could see the grand Falun Dafa parade.
I Want to Read Falun Dafa Books
After watching the parade, Angela Mendez said, “I cannot wait to know more, I want to read Falun Dafa books. The parade is spectacular, I felt positive energy, we love freedom, it is free in America, we don’t want communism. Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance, these three words are important, we should follow Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. I know the meaning of these three words.”
Ms. Fleming, who used to be the HR manager in a company in New York, followed the different sections in the parade. She kept saying, wow, this is beautiful, extraordinary! She spoke of the persecution of Falun Dafa for 24 years and practitioners’ persistence in raising awareness, “I think they are remarkable, such a large group, people of different nationalities, races and cultural backgrounds come together to celebrate this. I can tell they place a lot of importance on this day and have made a lot of efforts.”
Mr. González from Mexico works in finance. He brought his fiancee and her mother to New York on a holiday. They got off the plane yesterday and saw such a grand parade today. He thought he was very lucky and kept saying, “They (Falun Dafa practitioners) are amazing!”
When he learned of the atrocities in China, he said, “Such a beautiful tradition, a cultivation way with a long history, the persecution is horrible, it should not happen!” He saw the website to sign the online petition opposing the persecution and said he would sign his name. He also said he would do anything including telling friends and coworkers to help stop the persecution.
Belkis Cueto from Florida kept waving at the participants in the parade. She took video recordings with her mobile phone and tears flowed down her cheeks nonstop. She could not explain why she kept crying. She said, “It is such an extravaganza! I love them! I love to listen to the music. Everyone has a smile on their face, it is so moving.”
The Whole World Needs Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance
Debby Coultas from Boston said that many people feel lost, “That is why Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance are important. I think it is great to be a truthful person, compassion, everyone should have empathy, forbearance, tolerance because everyone is different, they have the right to live the way they want. If everyone is kinder, more sincere, the world will become a better place.”
Prafull Jatale and Kayaks Sudarshan are tourists from India. They were particularly excited to see the parade and kept waving at practitioners, bowing and heshi. They said, “Many people practice Falun Gong in India, in schools, on the streets, many people practice Falun Dafa’s sitting meditation.”
Carmen Porfido waved to practitioners in the parade. She said, “I hope Chinese people will gain freedom and break away from the CCP. Many Chinese fled the country due to fear and suppression. The whole world needs Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. Many people are still silent on the persecution suffered by Chinese people in China. The world should speak up about this.”
Chinese version available
New York: People Express Admiration for Falun Dafa at Grand Parade to Commemorate April 25 Appeal