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Ubud Writers & Readers Festival Unveils Its 2020 Theme: Mulat Sarira

Posted: 05 March 2020

From 28 October–1 November 2020, more than 150 writers, artists, activists and performers from over 30 countries will converge for the 17th Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF), to share stories and ideas exploring this year’s theme, Mulat Sarira.

Like the Festivals of previous years, the theme is drawn from a Balinese-Hindu philosophy. Mulat Sarira, Self-Reflection, is the ability to reflect on oneself and understand the reasoning behind our actions. For Balinese Hindus, Mulat Sarira is the spiritual principle of looking into our own deeds, thoughts and values before judging others.

“As egocentrism continues to cause human conflict, from discrimination to wars, disease and genocide,” commented UWRF Founder and Director Janet DeNeefe. “Balinese Hindus believe in looking at their own choices and behavior, to contemplate these first before looking into those of others.”

This year’s Festival will explore the simple act of self-reflection: understanding who we are, our values and the reasons behind our actions. The theme invites compelling conversations between literary luminaries, emerging writers, activists and leading journalists, to discuss how self-reflection relates to their work and artistic process and how storytelling that mirrors an artist’s self-perception can connect with others across cultures.

The fiery discussions, powerful performances, literary lunches, and after dark events will delve into the heart of every gripping story: who we are and what drives our actions.

Along with the 2020 theme, UWRF has also unveiled the artwork for its 17th year, created by acclaimed Balinese artist Teja Astawa. His artwork has received national recognition and his distinctive Kamasan-style art represents stories that are told in a thematic series.

In his response to the theme, Teja Astawa commented, “For me, Mulat Sarira means going back to traditions, because they are our roots. When I translated the theme of Ubud Writers & Readers Festival to my artwork, I took the elements relating to tradition that mirror the meaning of the theme itself.”

“With last year’s theme, Karma, we explored the impacts of our personal and collective actions on our social and physical environments,” DeNeefe continued. “At a time of social media and fast connectivity, when we can easily pass judgement on others, we’ll ask what Mulat Sarira or Self-Reflection looks like in 2020. Being aware of one’s action before passing judgement on others is not as easy as it looks.

“In our 17th year, we’ll celebrate the writers, artists, and activists from across Indonesia and the world who are deeply aware of the consequences of their actions. Through cross-cultural perspectives on the Balinese-Hindu principle of Mulat Sarira, we’ll explore how self-reflection can impact others around us.”

Stay tuned to our InstagramTwitter and  Facebook to learn more about our UWRF20 theme. The first round of speakers will be announced and Early Bird Tickets on sale in mid-July, followed by the full program in mid-August.