About Borobudur Writers & Cultural Festival

Borobudur Writers & Cultural Festival (BWCF) is an annual festival since 2012, from 2017 organized by BWCF Society, the founders and the Steering Committee are Romo Mudji Sutrisno, Seno Joko Suyono, and Imam Muhtarom.

BWCF is a meeting point for writers – both fiction and non-fiction – creative workers, cultural and interfaith religious activists. Each year, BWCF presents a main theme, selected for its potential to stimulate the participants to re-acknowledge the variety, wealth, and uniqueness of ideas in literature, art, and religions of the Archipelago.

The main focus of BWCF is to dig up and reinterpret the variety of the Archipelago’s literary and cultural wealth, in order to discover an actual relevance to Indonesia’s present and future. BWCF thinks that there are still a great deal in the nation’s history and culture yet to be discovered and discussed.

The first BWCF was held in 2012, with the theme “Memories and Imaginations of the Archipelago: The Great Seminar on Writers of Indonesia’s History and Silat Stories”. Then, the 2013 BWCF carried the theme “The Turning Tide: Memories of the Archipelago’s Spices and Maritime Life”. The third BWCF, in 2014, came up with the theme “The Messiah: Power and Rebellion in the Archipelago”. The following year, BWCF presented the theme “Mountains and Mythologies in the Archipelago”. The theme of the fifth BWCF in 2016 was “Celebrating 200 Years of Serat Centhini”, and the 2017 BWCF explored the theme “Gandawyuha and the Quest of Religiosity in the Archipelago’s Native Religions”.

The participants and audience members of BWCF always come from various, interdisciplinary backgrounds – novelists, poets, philologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, university students, journalists, and the general public. The events hosted by the festival include seminars, film screenings, book launches, art performances, lectures on the history of the Archipelago, and workshops. One of the festival’s traditions is the awarding ceremony to honor writers, historians, and humanists recognized for their dedication in researches, studies, or distinctive activities in highlighting certain important subjects in the nation’s history. The accolade is called Sang Hyang Kamahayanikan Award.

The 2012 Sang Hyang Kamahayanikan Award was given to the late SH Mintardja, a pioneer in silat (Indonesian traditional martial art) literary genre; the 2013 award was given to the late maritime historian AB Lapian for his extensive research on Indonesia’s maritime life; the 2014 award went to historian Peter Carey, who wrote the life story of Prince Diponegoro and the history of the battles of Java; the 2015 award was given to Hadi Sidomulyo (Nigel Bullough), a history enthusiast who traced back the names of the villages mentioned in the book Negara Kertagama. In 2016, the awardee was Halilintar Latief, for his contribution in empowering the bissu community in South Sulawesi, and the late Kartono Kamajaya, for his merit in translating and transcribing Serat Centhini into Roman alphabet. In 2017, the accolade was awarded to Prof. Dr. Noerhadi Magetsari for his outstanding research on Borobudur and for writing a book on Borobudur based on kajian sutra (written text) – the most comprehensive study done by an Indonesian academic.

In addition to seminars, each BWCF is also marked with various art performances and poetry forums relevant to the main theme of the festival, held in venues around the Borobudur Temple. For instance, performances were held in villages around Borobudur, which include the villages Gejayan Gunung Merbabu, Tutup Ngisor Gunung Merapi, and Krandegan Gunung Sumbing, as well as the Mertoyudan seminary. Every year, the performances are held in different venues. In 2017, performances with art installations were showcased at Borobudur Temple’s Akhsobya square.