Parade in San Francisco Celebrates Falun Dafa’s 32nd Anniversary

Parade in San Francisco Celebrates Falun Dafa’s 32nd Anniversary

Practitioners do the Falun Dafa exercises in San Francisco on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Lear Zhou

Lear Zhou

5/12/2024

Updated: 5/14/2024

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SAN FRANCISCO—Over 350 Falun Dafa practitioners from the Bay Area held a parade in San Francisco on May 11 to celebrate the 32-year anniversary of the spiritual meditation practice’s introduction to the public.
The parade traveled along the waterfront in San Francisco, with banners, colorful costumes, a marching band, a float that featured fairies seated on large lotus flowers, and a golden dragon.
Similar events were held in other cities around the world, such as New York, Toronto, London, and Melbourne.
Falun Dafa was first introduced to the public on May 13, 1992, by founder Mr. Li Hongzhi. Rooted in traditional Chinese beliefs, the practice became known for its health benefits and rapidly spread throughout China via word of mouth.
About 70 to 100 million people in China were practicing it by 1999. At that time, the atheist Chinese Communist Party, deeming the practice’s popularity a threat to its grip on power, launched a violent persecution targeting Falun Gong.
The expansive campaign of persecution, which continues today, has resulted in millions being sent to detention centers, labor camps, and prisons, where practitioners have been subjected to torture, slave labor, brainwashing, and death by forced organ harvesting.
The parade in San Francisco raised awareness of this persecution in addition to celebrating World Falun Dafa Day, the practice’s anniversary.
The march was led by the San Francisco Tian Guo Marching Band, which is composed of Falun Gong practitioners. The band debuted in 2007 and now has 80 volunteer members.
“I think the band is a very effective way of having the community stop for a minute and think about something [the persecution against Falun Gong] that’s going on in the world that shouldn’t be, and that we should be paying attention to as a community,” band conductor Abraham Thompson told The Epoch Times.

Finding Purpose in Falun Dafa

Navid Vanahi, an Iranian who traveled from Europe, started practicing Falun Dafa in Iran in 2003.
“I was always looking for a way, looking for something … to show me what we’re here for, like the purpose of life,” Mr. Vanahi said. “I read the [main book,] Zhuan Falun; I thought, oh, that’s it! This is the way that I’ve been looking for for a long time. Because almost all of my questions about the universe, life, human body, everything, were answered by the [book] Zhuan Falun.”
Through practicing the five Falun Dafa exercises, Mr. Vanahi is healthier than all his friends, he said. When his friends all got tired from walking for a long time, he felt like the walk was “nothing.”
“I’m here to show the world that it’s a good practice. It’s not only for Asian people, and it’s for everyone. And everyone can practice and improve their body and improve their mind,” Mr. Vanahi said.

A Compass

Yanglan Lee, a Korean American, learned how to practice Falun Dafa in Golden Gate Park 24 years ago. She said the three main principles of Falun Dafa—truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance—are like “the compass that I can totally trust.”
“And when I apply them to my life, I sometimes see miracles,” Ms. Lee said.
She said she used to be bothered by her next-door neighbor’s heavy smoking. Then she started to look for her own shortcomings and tried to understand his point of view with compassion and tolerance. Now it doesn’t bother her anymore.

‘This Energy Is Amazing’

Los Angeles resident Aly Merced, while out with her mother, passed by Falun Dafa practitioners meditating at the May 11 event.
“It just looks very peaceful, and I was definitely very interested and drawn by it,” she said.
She learned that practitioners are being persecuted in China, and she thinks that’s awful.
“It’s so important to your identity for a country in general, to have that freedom of religion and freedom of speech and freedom to be able to practice what you want,” Ms. Merced said.
Aly Merced, a passerby from Los Angeles, at the event in San Francisco on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Aly Merced, a passerby from Los Angeles, at the event in San Francisco on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Sana Bhumbla from Napa said she felt energy at the Ferry Building plaza where Falun Dafa practitioners were doing the exercises on the day of the parade.
“[I] feel this energy is amazing, and it’s grounded,” Ms. Bhumbla said. “It was kind of like a divine connection.”
Ms. Bhumbla’s new friend, an artistic student named Holly Rose from Arkansas, felt sorry about the persecution in China.
“It’s terrible, tragic. And it’s important that we can champion these opportunities for people to express themselves the way they need to,” Ms. Rose said.
The Tian Guo Marching Band leads the parade in San Francisco on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

The Tian Guo Marching Band leads the parade in San Francisco on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Navid Vanahi, who started practicing Falun Dafa in Iran in 2003, prepares to join the parade on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Navid Vanahi, who started practicing Falun Dafa in Iran in 2003, prepares to join the parade on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Practitioners hold banners and a golden dragon in the parade on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Practitioners hold banners and a golden dragon in the parade on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

A golden dragon is part of the procession of the parade in San Francisco on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

A golden dragon is part of the procession of the parade in San Francisco on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Banners calling for the stop of organ harvesting in China are part of the parade in San Francisco on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Banners calling for the stop of organ harvesting in China are part of the parade in San Francisco on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

A float is part of the Falun Dafa procession of the parade in San Francisco on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

A float is part of the Falun Dafa procession of the parade in San Francisco on May 11, 2024. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Jason Blair contributed to this report.
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Lear Zhou

Lear Zhou

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Lear is a reporter based in San Francisco covering Northern California news.

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