On Saturday 13 October, the 22nd Annual Emergency Services Blessing of the Fleet ceremony took place in Whittlesea, near Kinglake.
This is an annual multifaith service hosted by the City of Whittlesea and administered by leaders of local faith communities, in recognition of the role of emergency services personnel in protecting our community.
This year was particularly significant as we near the 10 year anniversary of the devastating Black Saturday Bushfires which ravaged Kinglake and the surrounding areas of Victoria’s north, destroying homes, farms and the whole town of Marysville. The Black Saturday Bushfires remain Australia’s all-time worst bushfire disasters, claiming the lives of 180 people and injuring 414 people.
Premier Brumby at the time described the situation by stating: “There’s no activity, there’s no people, there’s no buildings, there’s no birds, there’s no animals, everything’s just gone. So the fatality rate will be very high.”
The Blessing of the Fleet ceremony welcomed people from all faiths to join in prayer.
The smoking ceremony was done by Ian Hunter of the Wurunjeri Willum people. The welcome speeches were made by CEO of the City of Whittlesea, Simon Overland and Mayor Kris Pavlidis.
Prayers were read by Pastor Richard Wilson, Mufti Aasim Rashid and The Reverend Dr. Ruwan Palapathwala. A Sikh prayer was made by Amardeep Kaur and the Buddhist prayer offered by Venerable Chhet Hout.
Mufti Aasim Rashid read a beautiful dua as a part of the Blessing of the Fleet Ceremony 2018;
O Allah, I seek Your Protection from:
Straying, or be led astray;
Slipping, or being made to slip
Oppressing, or being oppressed
Acting ignorantly, or being treated ignorantly
O Allah: I seek Your Protection from: The collapse of buildings
Falling to death
(The pains of) old age; Grief;
O Allah: I seek Your Protection from: Knowledge of no benefit;
A heart that does not soften; Insatiable carnality;
Hunger, for it is a wretched bedmate; Betrayal, for it is a terrible confidante; Lethargy;
And the Trials of life and death
The event ended will a solemn minute silence for those who perished in the fires and on duty and the national anthem sang by all.