Facing a global clean water crisis, students from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) have researched the culture of Kudus, Central Java, which preserves water in wells and springs through the wisdom of Banyu Penguripan.
The scarcity of clean water has become an urgent issue, and this research aims to view local wisdom as a concrete and sustainable solution.
The study was conducted as part of the 2023 Student Creativity Program organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The team consists of Tiyo Ardianto (Philosophy 2021) as the leader, Devina Ocsanda (Archaeology 2020), Adelin Gusman Munir (Regional Development 2021), and Nurma Aisyah (Javanese Literature 2021) as members, along with Dr. Sartini as the supervising lecturer.
“Banyu Penguripan cosmologically unites 51 water sources in the form of wells and springs in Kudus,” explained Tiyo Ardianto.
“In reality, the community is educated to have greater respect for water as an essential element of life and a means to holiness. Ironically, despite having local wisdom regarding water, Kudus is threatened by a clean water crisis predicted to occur in 2032.”
The observations were conducted at 14 wells and springs around Kudus on July 17-18 and September 1-3, 2023, and involved various relevant organizations.
During the observations, the research team met with caretakers, community leaders, historians, as well as representatives from the Menara Mosque and Sunan Kudus Tomb Foundation, Perumda Tirta Muria (PDAM), the Menawan Village Government, and the Housing, Settlement, and Environmental Agency of Kudus Regency.
Throughout the observations, the team found that the people of Kudus have a close relationship with water through folklore, beliefs, and traditions. They regard water as sacred, a source of life that must be preserved with great respect.
“In the community’s beliefs, wells and springs hold spiritual and blessed values. They are legacies from ancestors and will be passed on to future generations,” said Ardianto.
The community has implemented a structured water management system in some wells and springs based on sustainability principles, as in Sendang Widodari in Menawan, Gebog, and Sendang Dewot in Wonosoco, Undaan.
In this system, people learn to balance their needs and water sustainability. Each resident is conscious of maintaining the ecosystem around the wells and springs, avoiding waste or exploitation, and preserving their traditions.
After conducting an in-depth analysis of the gathered data, the team revealed that Banyu Penguripan could be a strategy for a sustainable clean water supply based on local wisdom by optimizing the values embodied in its conservation practices.
The team recommends active collaboration between the community, caretakers, and the government to create policies and agreements to support the preservation of wells and springs, preventing the looming clean water crisis in Kudus.
The researchers believe that water conservation through local wisdom can be applied in other regions, preventing a clean water crisis and sustaining culture.
Author: The UGM Banyu Penguripan Team