altLansdowne Street was transformed by the Greek Community of Melbourne yesterday, Sunday 28 March, with explosions (quite literally at one point) of colours, music, dance, and drama. The event commemorated the 200th Anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821 and the feast day of Evagelismos with Hellenes and Philhellenes, flocking to East Melbourne to help celebrate this momentous occasion.

The day started early with a church service at the neighbouring Holy Church of Evagelismos which in 2016 suffered extensive damage due to fire. Following the service, the congregation spilled out onto the street to see the re-enactment of Ypsilantis and his sacred band taking the revolutionary oath.

The outdoor program started with the National Anthems being sung by students from the Greek Community’s Alphington Grammar School followed by invited guest speakers addressing the gathering crowd.

MC’s Tammy Iliou (Vice President of the Greek Community of Melbourne) and Michael Karamitos (Co-Chair of the Greek Community’s 200Yr Anniversary program) led the proceedings which included speeches from:
• The Very Reverend Evmenios Vasilopoulos, Archiepiscopal Vicar for the district of Northcot
• Mr Emmanuel Kakavelakis Consul General of Greece to Victoria
• Mr Steve Dimopoulos, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier in the Victorian Government
• Mr Michael O’Brien, Leader of the Victorian Opposition
• Cr Jamal Hakim, City of Melbourne
• Mr Bill Papastergiadis OAM, President of the Greek Community of Melbourne

Mr Dimopoulos spoke of how ‘wonderful accepting’ Australia as well as the ‘dignity and respect’ that has been awarded to the Greek diaspora which has left a large ‘footprint’ on the country.

The Hon Michael O’Brien shouted ‘Zito i Ellada, Zito I Australia’ after talking about the importance of identity.

The GCM President Mr Bill Papastergiadis spoke about how the Greek War of Independence was a ‘source of inspiration’ for subsequent countries to pick up arms and fight to their freedom and how, in modern times, that impact has continued especially in Australia with the stories of Greek migrants who made a significant contribution to ‘the development and identity of Australia’. Mr Papastergiadis also spoke about how, because of this contribution, the anniversary of the Greek War of Independence was not just a day to be celebrated by Greeks but, instead, a day that could be celebrated by both countries who ‘share the same democratic values that have shaped both Australia and Greece’.

Following the Speeches, Committee Co-Chair Professor Pirpiris introduced the Community’s 200Yr Anniversary Program which was interrupted by two rebels who dragged him away ushering in the much-anticipated re-enactment.

To a solemn tune, the re-enactors arrived on foot and horseback in splendid costumes. Last to appear was “Ypsilantis” complete in a replica Russian military uniform where he gave a rousing call to  arms and the famous pledge of “Freedom or Death” on his horse. Immediately following the pledge, members of the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment took the stage to reenact the taking of Tripolitsa, one of the first major victories for the nascent Greek forces.

A series of loud flintlock shots were fired to the delight of the crowd which was closely followed by 2 and half hours of dancing by the Greek Community of Melbourne dance ensemble, the Pancretan Association dance group, the Pan-Macedonian Association dance group and the Manasis and Pegasus dance groups.

The Commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821 was a Greek Community of Melbourne event.
The event is part of the Greek Community of Melbourne's year long Greece21 Bicentenary Program.
The event was auspiced by the Greece21 committee and supported by the Victorian Government through the Victorian Multicultural Commission, The City of Melbourne, the Greek precinct of Melbourne, Delphi Bank and AA holdings.