Julia Roberts angers villagers in India during a Hindu holiday

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.

Paul Newman, a tribute and movie locations

Paul Newman died yesterday. Besides feeling sad that someone I’ve admired from my teenage years up until now is no longer going to grace us with his physical presence, I’ve thought about several of the scenes from his movies that can be visited and other places that I know that have a Paul Newman connection.

The last Paul Newman connection I made was two weeks ago when I went to the Wyandot Popcorn Museum in Marion, Ohio. Paul Newman’s Dunbar wagon is there, along with a picture of Newman looking quite dapper. Newman’s microwave popcorn is made in Marion.

There are several other Ohio connections since Newman was born in Cleveland, grew up in Shaker Heights before he went to college for a year at Ohio University in Athens, and graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier.

Another unusual connection is found in Albuquerque, New Mexico. On one of the walls at Tree New Mexico, a non-profit organization with its office in Albuquerque, is a plaque from Paul Newman. Tree New Mexico won several thousand dollars as part of a cooking contest cook-off that Newman’s charity used to run. You had to use Newman’s Own products in the recipe. My friend who runs the organization was ga ga over Newman when he handed her the check.

To find Newman’s movie locations, there is a Web site World Wide Guide to Movie Locations that lists several filming sites of Newman’s movies. If you click on the highlighted titles, you can specific spots for that particular movie. For example, Absence of Malice was filmed in Dade County and Miami, Florida. Certain scenes are listed such as Matheson Hammock Park where Michael Gallagher, Newman’s character, secretly meets with a politician

At the Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center in Langtry, Texas, you can take in the history of the real Judge Roy Bean who Newman portrayed in the movie, The Life and Time of Judge Roy Bean. The center is in the historic building that used to be an opera house, saloon and courthouse combo.

The Sting, one of my favorite Newman movies, was mostly shot at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, but one item to take in that is connected to the movie is the carousel at the Santa Monica Pier. It’s the same one Newman’s character operated.

Another Web site, Seeing Stars in Hollywood, lists several Paul Newman inspired locations around Los Angeles. Some of them include the houses where he lived, where he was spotted eating and places that have paid him tribute.

Here’s a Paul Newman quote that sort of fits travel… kind of. “It’s useless to put on your brakes when you are upside down.”

Ingmar Bergman’s Sweden: Fårö Island

There was a political cartoon I came across of two people leaving the Simpson’s movie saying to each other “Who’s Ingmar Bergman.” The cartoon was prompted by the recent death of Ingmar Bergman, the prolific Swedish film director and the box-office success of The Simpson’s movie.

Bergman’s movies introduced me to Scandinavia–and deep thoughts, and later prompted my attraction to the college program I did at the University of Copenhagan in Denmark. (Okay, Denmark isn’t Sweden, but it’s close–just a ferry ride away.) Sometimes all it takes is a high school film class’s showing of the Seventh Seal to open up the world as a place worth exploring. I think this was the first movie I ever saw with subtitles. Being an avid film-goer, friends have called me Tom, one of the main characters in the Glass Menagerie, films have connected me to many places in the world. Some places I’ve been to–others I have not.

Hearing that he had died got me looking for places to see in Scandinavia with an Ingmar Bergman connection. One place you can go to is Fårö Island, the place where Bergman lived. Here’s a recent read “Sweden: The Director’s Cut” by Oliver Bennet who headed there on a pilgrammage to bask in the influences of Bergman’s world. There are wonderful descriptions and impressions that make me want to go here myself someday.

For a wonderful essay on Bergman’s influences, check out “Woody Allen Remembers.” Woody Allen and Ingmar Bergman were long time friends. This photo is from Lifecruiser’s Fårö 2006 Summer set on Flickr. They’re all gorgeous. I had the hardest time picking one.