Ubud Writers & Readers Festival returns for the 18th year with the theme ‘Mulat Sarira: Self-Reflection’

Posted: 14 April 2021

The long-awaited Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) returns for its 18th year, from 8–17 October 2021. The Festival moves forward with the theme, Mulat Sarira, interpreted in English as Self-Reflection. The Festival will explore self-reflection, cultural introspection, and human rights: examining who we are, what unites and divides us, and what drives our actions.

Drawn from a Balinese-Hindu philosophy, Mulat Sarira is the spiritual principle of examining one’s actions, thoughts, and values to ultimately build the deepest sense of self-understanding and interconnectedness in pursuit of Dharma, the Truth. Right now, self-reflection is more appropriate than ever before. The COVID-19 global pandemic has created a colossal global crisis that has forced people to deeply reflect and re-invest in themselves and their community.

“We have been shaped by a new normal and, with it, human values of care, co-operation and compassion have been brought to the forefront, while we are left contemplating to which parts of normal do we wish to return?” commented Janet DeNeefe, UWRF Founder and Director. “The theme invites compelling conversations from literary luminaries, emerging writers, activists, academics and journalists, to discuss the importance of self-reflection and how the power of storytelling can connect us across cultures.”

This year’s Festival will have meaningful discussions, powerful performances, and poignant readings, following a strict COVID-19 health protocol with social-distancing measures applied.

Along with the theme, UWRF also returns to the artwork created by an acclaimed Balinese artist Teja Astawa. His distinctive traditional Kamasan style art represents human stories that are told in classic and bold natural settings.

In his response to the theme, Teja Astawa commented, “For me, Mulat Sarira means going back to tradition, because that is our root. When I translated the theme of Ubud Writers & Readers Festival to my artwork, I used traditional elements to mirror ourselves.”

In the 18th year, UWRF will celebrate national and international emerging and established writers, artists, and activists who will delve into the theme across many landscapes.

 “During this unprecedented time, we ask what Mulat Sarira looks like. Has our journey of self-reflection created a new culture of learning, self-improvement and adaptation?” DeNeefe continued. “Through cross-cultural, diverse perspectives on the Balinese-Hindu principle of Mulat Sarira, we’ll explore how self-reflection and global introspection has impacted us all and the lessons we have learned to take with us into the future.”

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