LONDON—Under a typical grey sky in London, there was a burst of colour this week as people gathered to celebrate World Falun Dafa day.
“Falun Dafa is an ancient traditional Chinese practice with meditation and standing exercises, it’s based on the principles of truthfulness compassion and tolerance,” said Malcolm Hudson, a property investor and practitioner of Falun Dafa, who was part of the dragon dance team on Saturday.
“The basis of the teachings are all about letting go of attachments, improving your character, and elevating yourself spiritually,” he said.
It was May 13, 1992, when the ancient discipline was first made public by Mr. Li Hongzhi, who began teaching it in northeastern China in the city of Changchun on his birthday.
The practice spread rapidly throughout China, primarily by word-of-mouth, and by 1999 there were up to 100 million people practicing according to its principles. Now millions around the world are are doing the same.
“The principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance, living that way in life… it goes back to who I really am inside,” said actress and model Victoria Ledwidge.
“I think we all are good inside really and [Falun Dafa] just helps to bring that out,” she said.
She walked the streets of Trafalgar Square dressed as a Chinese heavenly beauty, along with another practitioner of the practice, Loretta Duchamps.
“Wearing these traditional Chinese clothes, I just felt very wonderful and grateful that I could join this activity,” said Duchamps.
The atmosphere in Trafalgar Square was one of celebration. People gathered, curious to find out what was going on.
But there was also a sense of appreciation that in the UK, people have the freedom to believe; unlike in China, where practitioners of the peaceful practice have since 1999 faced a brutal persecution.
Not only has Falun Dafa been banned, but the Chinese communist regime has sanctioned arrests, beatings, and all manner of torture on practitioners using a vast network of labor camps across the country. Reports have also emerged that practitioners are the target of state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting.
“Meditation is part of a lifestyle, anyone can do that, and there should be no reason to suppress something like that,” said Marcos Michael, a dentist visiting from Germany.
Until such suppression stops, for some, this day of celebration will still be a time to raise awareness of the persecution—in the hope that people in China will soon also have the freedom to believe.