After instructions from President Gordon B. Hinckley and following his dedicatory prayer, the Conference Center congregation rose from their seats, most holding white handkerchiefs. Led by him, they waved the cloths above their heads with a united "shout" of "Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna, to God and the Lamb," spoken three times.
Because the practice is considered sacred to Latter-day Saints, President Hinckley asked the media to be sensitive in its coverage and comments about the proceedings.
According to a statement issued by the church, the practice is "reminiscent of the praise of the followers of Jesus as he descended the Mount of Olives (in the New Testament account, Matt. 21:1-11) and of the outcry of the multitudes in America while surrounding the temple in the land Bountiful" as chronicled in 3 Nephi 11:17 in the Book of Mormon, revered by church members as scripture on par with the Bible.
"It also parallels the 'praising and thanking the Lord' by voices and instruments at the dedication of Solomon's temple," in 2 Chronicles 5:11-14, the statement said.