Greek Orthodox Community of SA celebrates Greek Independence Day

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By Peter Tantalos.

The Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia (GOCSA) commemorated Greek Independence Day with vibrant festivities on Sunday, March 24.

The day commenced with reverence as the Cathedral of Archangels Michael & Gabriel on Franklin Street filled with the faithful for a Divine Liturgy and Doxology.

Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy.
Courtyard of the Cathedral.
Courtyard of the Cathedral.
Courtyard of the Cathedral preparing for the wreath ceremony.
Courtyard of the Cathedral preparing for the wreath ceremony.

At 11:30am, the courtyard of the Cathedral became a space of remembrance for the Memorial Service and wreath laying ceremony, honouring the heroes of Greek independence.

Wreaths were laid by dignitaries including The Hon. Michael Brown MP, Member for Florey representing the Hon. Peter Malinauskas MP, Premier of South Australia and the Hon. Zoe Bettison MP, Minister for Multicultural Affairs; The Hon. Chris Kourakis, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia; Trian Gonis, representing Steve Georganas MP, Federal Member for Adelaide; The Right Honourable Dr Jane Lomax Smith, Lord Mayor of the City of Adelaide; Councillor George Demetriou, representing the Mayor of West Torrens, Michael Coxen; Councillor Stephen Finos of the City of Unley; and Councillor Peter Ppiros of the City of Charles Sturt.

Wreaths were also laid by the Greek National Resistance, Cyprus Community of SA, Pan-Arcadian Association of SA, Messinian Association of SA, and the Kastellorizan Society of SA, amongst other community organisations.

Lunch was served, and the cultural festivities and official opening ceremony began.
Lunch was served, and the cultural festivities and official opening ceremony began.

Commemorations and celebrations of independence were then transitioned to Olympic Hall, where lunch was served, and the cultural festivities and official opening ceremony began.

The President of GOCSA, Peter Gardiakos, opened the festivities by reflecting on the national and cultural significance of the event, including Greece’s rich history and the spirit of 1821.

“The 25th of March is a date of profound significance for Greece… In 1821, on this historic day, the Greek War of Independence ignited, marking a turning point that echoes throughout Greece’s history… standing as a testament to the unwavering resolve of our ancestors to cast off the shackles of Ottoman rule and reclaim Greece’s sovereignty,” the President said.

Mr Gardiakos concluded with a broader theme, that “beyond [the date’s] historical significance… it’s a celebration steeped in the values of democracy. Born in ancient Greece, democracy remains a cherished principle, guiding our journey towards a brighter tomorrow.

“Just as our ancestors proclaimed “Eleftheria i Thanatos” (freedom or death) with unwavering determination, let us never forget the courageous souls who made the ultimate sacrifice for a liberated Greece.”

Speeches were also given by Mr Brown and Dr Lomax Smith.

Mr Brown spoke about Greek influence in the state since the early 1900s and highlighted GOCSA’s contribution to promoting multiculturalism and intercultural understanding. Dr Lomax Smith reminisced about 40 years ago when she moved into the city and “the Hellenic diaspora was everywhere,” and mentioned how Adelaide was the “Athens of the South.”

Following the official opening, the hall echoed with the melodies of theatre plays and poems of the talented students of GOCSA’s Greek Schools, showcasing their learnings over the past months.

The festivities concluded with traditional dance performances by the GOCSA Dance Academy. The dancers, from the junior, intermediate, and advanced groups, were dressed in traditional revolutionary period costumes.

Their performances provided more than just entertainment; They were displays of cultural storytelling, each dance symbolising the spirit of a nation that has withstood trials and tribulations, and is now celebrating its 203rd year of independence.

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