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Greek community celebrates the Blessing of the Waters
Religion and Hellenic culture met at Henley Beach on Sunday 7th of January as the Greek Orthodox Community held its annual Blessing of the Waters Festival as part of the Epiphany celebrations.
The celebrations started off with the Divine Liturgy conducted at all the Community’s churches and the blessing of the waters service conducted at the Henley jetty.
Meanwhile, Henley reserve was yet again turned to an open-air funfair ahead of the Blessing of The Waters festival, featuring popular grilled delicacies, sweets and a jam-packed entertainment program.
Food tents, outdoor settings, grills, tables and umbrellas by the seaside, accompanied by live Greek music and the familiar culinary aromas, brought a taste of Greece to the thousands of visitors who came to enjoy the first event of the new year.
The official part of the celebrations began around 12.15pm with visitors and official guests gathering at the end of Henley jetty to attend the Epiphany ceremony where our clergy purify and sanctify the waters, following the tradition of thousands of years.
His Eminence Bishop Chrisostomos, during the sanctification ceremony threw the cross in to the rather calm waters of Henley beach where Con Ninos proved the strongest and more skilled of all other swimmers in the race to retrieve the cross.
At the same time, following the tradition, ten white doves were released in the sky as a symbol of purity and enlightenment, sending a message for peace and prosperity.
His Excellency The Hon Hieu Van Le, Governor of South Australia, the Hon Jay Weatherill, Premier of South Australia, Her Worship Angela Evans, Mayor of the City of Charles Sturt, the Hon John Rau, Deputy Premier, The Hon David Ridgway MLC, Leader in the Upper House representing the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia, Mr Steven Marshall, Hon Michael Atkinson, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon Peter Malinauskas, Minister for Health, Ms Vickie Chapman, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr Paul Caica MP, Member for Colton, Ms Jennifer Rankine, Member for Wright, Mr Steve Georganas, Federal Member for Hindmarsh, Ms Jo Chapley, Candidate for Adelaide, Mr Nick Xenophon, Leader of the SA Best Party, Mr John Trainer, Mayor of West Torrens Council, Mr Nick Bolkus, Former Federal Minister for Immigration, Ms Irene Pnevmatikos, Candidate for the Legislattive Council were amongst the official guests who attended the Epiphany celebrations.
Back at Henley Square, the lucky swimmer was presented with a trophy by Bishop Chrisostomos, the Governor of South Australia and the Community’s President Mr Gonis and the formalities continued with speeches by official guests.
"It is so nice to see this vibrant community maintaining culture its traditions and sharing them with the rest of us," said Mr Rau.
In the meantime, long queues had formed at the food stations as hundreds of people lined up for the best lunch in town.
The favourite Greek culinary aromas dominated the Square and along with the summer breeze it was the perfect Greek summer day…only thousands of miles away from Greece!
The official part concluded at around 2.00pm and the festival continued with dancing and live music.
The entertainment part began with performances by the Community’s Dance Academy students.
A variety of traditional dances got everyone’s attention as the Academy’s students showed yet again their talent and skill.
The passionate and powerful dances of Pontos were also featured at this year’s entertainment program.
The talented dance group of the Pontian Brotherhood of South Australia brought to the stage tradition, culture and dazzling costumes, performing popular dance routines such as Kotsari and Letsina
But fun really heated up when a unique dance/fitness group showed how Greek dancing combined with aerobic exercises can burn serious calories and help lose weight…just by having fun.
The crowd seemed to be enjoying the novelty and many joined the OPA-cize instructors as they were…well, performing!
Meanwhile band Notes Live had in store a full entertainment package for the guests until late afternoon.
A similar celebration of the Epiphany was held by the "Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia", at Glenelg. The holy cross was thrown, however, at the shallow end of the jetty due to a shark, a huge white pointer that was seen floating about at the deep end.
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