It was an intimate celebration of Laconian culture as the Laconian Federation of NSW held their commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821.
Originally planned to be held in the courtyard of Marrickville’s St. Nicholas Church, rainy weather forced the celebrations into the neighbouring hall.
MC and Laconian Federation Committee member Chris Apostolakos welcomed guests and honourable dignitaries to the celebration.
Present at the event was Konstantinos Giannakodimos, representing the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, the Hon Anthony Albanese, leader of the Labor Party and federal opposition, Hon Courtney Houssos, Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council and President of AHEPA NSW Bill Skandalakis.
“Although we are at the other side of the world, we remember and we respect out proud heritage and the events of the 17th of March, 1821. Which, perhaps with the exception of the battle of thermpoloyae, is the most significant contribution of Laconians to the tapestry that is Greek history,” Chris Apostolakos said.
The honorary speaker at the event, Laconian Federation President Peter Kokkinakos, referred to the harrowing tales of the Laconians in one of the first battles of 1821, which took place seven days before March 25.
“We are here to honour the struggles and sacrifices of our ancestors. Not only the sacrifices of the Laconians but of all heroes from all over Greece,” said Mr Kokkinakos.
On 17 March 1821, war was declared on the Turks by the Maniates, who were a Greek group native to the Mani Peninsula, located in western Laconia.
It was on this same day where 2,000 Maniates, under the command of Petros Mavromichalis, advanced on the Messenian town of Kalamata. There, they united with troops under Theodoros Kolokotronis, Nikitaras and Papaflessas. Six days later, Kalamata was claimed by the Greeks.
“If we in the modern era cannot imitate them, let us at least remember them. Let us admire them and above all, be grateful for them,” Kokkinakos added.
“Let us acknowledge the fighters who gave us our freedom, let us acknowledge and honour the Greeks in the diaspora who showed a great national contribution to the struggle of 1821 and support of our homeland.”
Kokkinakos’ speech was followed by a powerful re-enactment of the oath taken by the Maniates in commitment to the freedom of Greece. The re-enactment was carried out by Vasilis and his group of dancers.
To remember the historical events of the revolution of 1821, Anastasia Diasakou Anastasiadi, the Federations cultural adviser, spoke about the brave efforts of some of Greece’s most well known, and unsung, heroes.
The ensuing speech was by a well-recognised member of the Greek community, Fanis Nikolareas, who wrote a poem to commemorate the events of 1821.
Wreaths were laid by representatives of Greek community organisations, signalling the end to the formal presentations. From there, guests enjoyed a musical performance by Cretan performers, who sung the ‘Hymn of Mani’ and a series of dances by Vasilis and his group.
For one of the dancers, Aiden Haralambidis, this was his first performance after joining the group only recently, with his father, David, expressing his pride.
The event held at St. Nicholas Church was under the auspices of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia.