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Julia Roberts gets in touch with her spiritual side on a visit to Indian ashram

23 SEPTEMBER 2009

Having held a long-time interest in Hinduism, Julia Roberts must have been delighted to sign up to play a woman who finds herself through the religion in her new flick Eat, Pray, Love.

The actress certainly looked in her element as she paid a visit to the Hari Mandir Ashram, a Hindu hermitage near Delhi, where she's filming scenes for her new film.

There she met the head of the ashram, Swami Dharmdev, and they offered prayers after she introduced him to her children.

The holy man was taken aback when the Hollywood star presented her brood - sons Finn and Henry and daughter Hazel - using Indian names. 

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"I was surprised when she introduced them as Mahalaxmi, Krishna Balaram and Ganesha," the swami told India Today.

"I tied the Raksa Sutra (sacred thread) around their wrists. We then sat and spoke for about half an hour… I do know she is very impressed with Indian culture."

Julia has in the past been heralded as one of the West's most "hindu-friendly" celebrities. She was publicly praised when she sported a bindi on her forehead during a visit to the Taj Mahal earlier this year.

She is also thought to have named her production company 'Red Om' in honour of the Hindu word for God and the Universe.

However there have been reports this week that filming Eat, Pray, Love, has disrupted Hindu villagers wanting to celebrate one of their most important festivals at the ashram. They were apparently unable to enter as security had sealed off the building during shooting.

In her new film – which is adapted from the best-selling memoir by Elzabeth Gilbert - she encarnates the writer who embarks on a spiritual quest to find herself following a divorce. The year spent travelling abroad takes her through Italy, India and Indonesia.

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