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Balinese language preservers win award

BY AGNES WINARTI ON 2013-02-05

Former teacher-turned-author of geguritan (traditional Balinese poems) I Nyoman Suprapta and Balinese novelist I Made Sugianto emerged as the two winners of the prestigious 2013 Rancage literary award.

Rancage is an annual literary award given since 1989 to authors who produce the most outstanding literary works and for individuals or institutions who display great service in developing and preserving literary works and language in their own Javanese, Sundanese or Balinese mother tongue. The award was initiated out of concern for local languages that have been struggling to survive due to a lack of attention from the government and society.

Suprapta, a former religion teacher, has authored 100 geguritan over the last 13 years. Some 80 pieces of his work have been published in the series Pustaka Gita Santi (Sacred Songs Book).

Among his books are Geguritan Maya Danawa, Geguritan Watugunung, Geguritan Siwaratri, Geguritan Pancadatu, Geguritan Dalem Balingkang and Geguritan Putra Sesana. Most of the geguritan take themes that are familiar among Balinese people in both the spoken and classical text tradition.

Besides composing classical stories, Suprapta also writes geguritan on novel themes, such as the Geguritan Narkoba and Geguritan Sad Atatayi (songs about six types of murder).

“Both his old and novel themes present lessons on morals, ethics and spiritual values.”

“The originality of his works is in the modern interpretations of the classical themes,” chairman of the board of founders of the Rancage Cultural Foundation, Ajip Rosidi, wrote in a release provided for Bali Daily on Monday.

Most of the stories are created to be sung as mocopotan or gita santi, which in Balinese tradition refer to the art of singing and interpreting hymns in beautiful rhythm. Suprapta’s active engagement in the preservation of Balinese literature and language is shown in his gita santi group called Sanggar Sunari, in which children and youths who perform for ceremonies and rituals participate. He also teaches similar groups at various schools.

Meanwhile, Sugianto won the most outstanding literary award for his novel Sentana. His novel was among the nine literary works in Balinese published in 2012, which include religious novel Dr. Ratini dan Ngrestiti Ati by Nyoman Manda; a compilation of poems Méong Garong by Sugianto; short story Bégal by IDK Raka Kusuma; short story Gancaran Mersun by Wayan Paing, short story Mekel Paris by IBW Kenitén; compilation of poems Léak Kota Pala by IGP Samar Gantang and Kabinét Ngejengit by DG Kumarsana.

In his novel Sentana, which means offspring, Sugianto tells the romantic story of two youths from different castes. Although the theme of caste conflicts has been widely raised by Balinese writers since the 1920s, Sugianto excels in his work featuring the idea of pada gelahang marriage, a marriage tradition in Bali that combines the patrilineal and matrilineal family system. It is regarded as a solution for families having an only child who is expected to produce offspring.

“Featuring beautiful metaphors, the short novel is a good read for our youth, and would be useful to form a bridge for the younger Balinese generation and modern Balinese literature,” wrote the release.

In the Sundanese literary category, a compilation of poems Lagu Padungdung by Deni A. Fajar won the award for most outstanding work, while Ganjar Kurnia, the rector of Padjajaran University was recognized for his services to preserve the Sundanese language. Among his numerous efforts has been initiating the commemoration of UNESCO’s International Mother Tongue Day at his university.

In the Javanese literary works category, writer Krishna Mihardja won the award for most outstanding work for his short story compilation Pratisara, while JFX Hoery was recognized for his efforts to preserve the Javanese language through the publication of his poems and short stories in various Javanese magazines and books.

In accordance with the Rancage literary award, the Samsudi award for best children’s read in Sundanese went to Dongéng Aki Guru by Elin Samsuri.

Source: The Jakarta Post – www.thejakartapost.com