People came out from across New Jersey on May 12 to observe World Falun Dafa Day, which was held in Secaucus for the first time. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the ancient Chinese Buddhist tradition, which consists of meditation and Tai Chi-like exercises.
Adults and children wearing blue and yellow t-shirts with Falun Dafa slogans gathered during a sunny day on the Buchmuller lawns and before the stage to hear live music, watch dance performances and to learn exercises. Mayor Michael Gonnelli spoke during the day’s events to welcome the group.
Proclamation by town
The mayor and Town Council recognized the group’s activities at the May 8 Council meeting with an official proclamation declaring May “Falun Dafa” month.
“It is common to see the whole family do Falun Gong.” – Janet Xiong
“We are pleased to extend warm greetings to Master Li Hongzhi…the esteemed founder of Falun Dafa and his disciples on this occasion and the celebration.”
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, seeks to cultivate increased health and inner balance through a series of teachings, meditation, and gentle exercises. The practice is said to relieve stress, anxiety, increase energy, improve physical health and promote spiritual growth and enlightenment.
Secaucus has a group of about 20 residents that practice Falun Dafa. In New Jersey there are more than 10 groups across the state according to member May Chen. According to the group, Falun Dafa is practiced in more than 70 countries worldwide.
“You can find inner peace,” said Chen as to why she practices Falun Dafa.
“We believe by following this practice, the whole world can become very peaceful,” said Richard Yin, local resident and Falun Dafa group representative.
Yin has been a resident for six months and said that his entire family practices Falun Dafa.
“It is common to see the whole family do Falun Gong,” said Janet Xiong. Xiong has lived in Secaucus since 2003 and is a main organizer of the local group. She was also involved in the planning for the World Falun Dafa day observance.
She said that her husband, son, and daughter-in-law also practice the meditation and exercises.
Facing challenges from China
Falun Dafa was founded in 1992 by Master Li Hongzhi, who was a proponent of qigong breathing exercises. He distinguished himself by connecting his philosophy to truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, three concepts that he said underlie the development of the cosmos.
The group claims that before 1999, Chinese officials recognized the benefits of the practice. According to news reports, the Chinese government banned the group shortly after 10,000 people gathered in Beijing for a silent demonstration April 1999 to protest negative state-run media reports. According to a Human Rights Watch 2012 report, Falun Gong members in China continue to risk intimidation, harassment, and arrest.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.