When Julia Roberts and her film crew took over a temple in Pataudi, a small town south of New Delhi, India last week, the locals weren’t too happy about it. Perhaps if the timing of the temple’s film shoot for “Eat, Pray, Love” had been better planned there wouldn’t have been an issue.
Instead, it seems that the folks who scouted out the temple as a location didn’t do their homework about when taking over the temple would be less problematic for the people who use the temple for it’s original purpose–praying and worship. Navaratri, an important nine-day religious festival was happening at the same time of the filming of Robert’s latest project.
This snafu created a mess of bad feelings.
Coinciding with the beginning of autumn, Navaratri’s purpose is for people to worship manifestations of the Divine Mother. It’s one of the most important Hindu holidays. Because Julia and her gang had taken the temple over, no one was allowed in, thus the villagers weren’t able to worship there–something they’ve done every Navaratri, I’m sure, ever since the temple was built.
Navaratri is centered on three Hindu goddesses: Durga, the warrior goddess; Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity; and Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. If they had been able to access the temple, the villagers would have been offering prayers for the protection of health and prosperity.
Ironically, it seems as if Roberts has been able to access the power of two of those goddesses–Durga and Lakshmi just fine which possibly has led the villagers to wonder if she is making a movie that ought to be called “Eat, Pray, Love–but Not Here.”
The goddess that Robert’s and gang should have spent a little more time accessing is Saraswati. Knowledge about a culture goes a long way when traversing holy ground.
Hopefully, Roberts and the producers have figured out some way to make amends. At the time of this BBC article, the people in charge of filming weren’t talking about the issue. The villagers certainly were.
Yesterday, Navaratri ended with Dussera which celebrates the victory of good over evil and the motherhood of God.
In case any location folks want to film in a Hindu temple, here’s a link to the BBC resource, “Religion and Ethics tools.” It tells when the Hindu holidays will occur through 2013.