The Annual Blessing of the Waters ceremony and Festival took place on Sunday 10th January at Henley beach, under the most ideal weather conditions, as thousands of Hellenes gathered at the popular spot to celebrate the religious milestone, organised by the Greek Orthodox Community.
The celebrations combined the Divine Liturgy conducted at all of the Community’s churches and the blessing of the waters service conducted on Henley jetty. Meanwhile, the newly renovated Henley reserve was yet again turned to an open-air funfair ahead of the Blessing of The Waters festival, featuring grilled food, live music and dancing. Food tents, outdoor settings, grills, tables and umbrellas by the seaside created a family atmosphere and the first summer event was underway. 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 15 year-old
Thomas Vatsis proved the strongest and more skilled of all other swimmers in the race to retrieve the cross. His Excellency The Hon Hieu Van Le, Governor of South Australia, Mr Paul Caica, Member for Colton, representing the Premier of South Australia Hon Jay Weatherill, Hon David Ridgway MLC, Leader in the Upper House, representing the Leader of the Opposition Mr Steven Marshall, the Hon Michael Atkinson Atkinson, Speaker of the House of Assembly and member for Croydon along with Hon Jennifer Rankine, Member for Wright, Ms Grace Portolesi, Chair of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission, Ms Angela Evans, Mayor of the City of Charles Sturt, Deputy Lord Mayor Mr Houssam Abiad, representing the Lord Mayor Mr Martin Haese,
Former Member for Hindmarsh Mr Steve Georganas and Councillor Paul Alexandrides were amongst the official guests who attended the Epiphany celebrations. Meanwhile, white doves were released in the sky as a symbol of purity and enlightenment, sending a message for peace and prosperity. Back at Henley Square, the lucky swimmer received from Bishop Chrisostomos and the Community’s President Mr Gonis an award and a gold cross for his successful effort and the formalities continued with speeches by official guests.
By this stage 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 1.00pm and the festival continued with dancing and live music.
Guests were in for a surprise when famous Greek tenor Yiannis Frangos appeared on stage for a unique performance. The talented tenor sang Andrea Bocelli and the famous hymn “Kyrie ton Dynameon”, mesmerising the guests with his voice. At the same time, a Ukrainian Dance group and the students of the Community’s Dance Academy offered a spectacular multicultural experience. Meanwhile band Trio Zorba once again entertained guests until late afternoon.
The Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia sincerely thanks the Government of South Australia for sponsoring this event and for their ongoing support towards the Community’s events.