Ubud Writers and Readers Festival opens with a message of peace

Around 100 Indonesian and foreign writers, actors, dancers and scholars enthusiastically attended the solemn opening of the second Ubud Writers and Readers' Festival 2005 at the grand Puri Ubud royal palace on Friday night.

Among the guests and participants were Timor Leste President Xanana Gusmao and First Lady Kirsty Gusmao; writer and Booker Prize winner Michael Ondaatje, award-winning Indian author Amitav Gosh and senior journalist Aristides Katoppo. Others joining the four-day event included theater actors, playwrights and publishers.

Despite the Oct. 1 bombings, only a few people registered for the event canceled and organizers said the turnout indicated the strong commitment of participants to make the festival a success.

Last year, 2004: Literary lunch with Nury Vittachi and George Negus

'We come here to Bali to show our solidarity, our friendship and trust of the people of Bali,' Kirsty Gusmao said in her opening speech. The chain-smoking Xanana looked relaxed and was busy taking photographs, while his wife was elegantly clad in a purple-colored gown.

The festival's executive director, writer Janet De Neefe said, 'I feel so grateful to have such tremendous support. The festival is sending a strong message to the world that we are here to deliver the message of peace.'

Preceded by a welcoming dance performed by a dozen women in glittering Balinese costumes (photo above) the atmosphere at Puri Ubud was upbeat and welcoming.

The nobles of Ubud palace have been renowned as an avid patrons of the arts and culture since the early l9th century. The opening ceremony was also highlighted by the energetic Barong Dance performed 'to unite the village, to protect it from any negative forces.' The opening ceremony continued with the Tribute to Aceh performance."

Articles about last years Festival you can find here, and here more Ubud news from last years Festival Directress Janet de Neefe

Article by Rita A. Widiadana, The Jakarta Post, Ubud, Bali