Julia Roberts' Hindu practice

I just returned from a glorious Seattle vacation, stopping in an airport bookstore to see what I missed for a week. Here's what I gathered from the newsstands: Bristol broke it off, Chelsea tied the knot, California judge reversed Proposition 8, Time published a startling cover on Afghanistan, Shaq will go to Boston, and Brett Favre joked about retiring.

What I somehow missed was that Julia Roberts had converted to Hinduism. You can read all about it on David Gibson's Politics Daily post where he refers to Elle magazine's latest cover story on the star.

Julia Roberts, the star of the movie "Eat Pray Love" tells Elle magazine that she and her entire family are practicing Hindus, making her the most prominent convert to one of America's smaller but increasingly prominent immigrant religions.

Roberts, 42, tells the fashion magazine that she and husband Danny Moder and their three children, 5-year-old twins Phinnaeus and Hazel and 3-year-old Henry, all go to temple to "chant and pray and celebrate."

"I'm definitely a practicing Hindu," says Roberts, who grew up with a Catholic mother and Baptist father. That seems to make her the most famous convert since the late George Harrison, a member of the Beatles who embraced Indian mysticism in the 1960s.

What I like about Gibson's post is that he offers a little bit of context for what it means to practice Hinduism, including her thoughts on reincarnation. Unfortunately, these details were too complex for a paper like the New York Daily News, which offered nothing about Hinduism. Other news outlets found Robertson's rejection of Botox more fascinating.

What's unclear from the excerpts available from Elle interview is whether Roberts started practicing Hinduism because of the character she most recently portrayed.

The entire Roberts-Moder family, she reveals, goes to temple together to "chant and pray and celebrate. I'm definitely a practicing Hindu," says Roberts, who grew up with a Catholic mother and Baptist father.

And since in Hindu cosmology souls can be reincarnated in other bodies, where does she see herself in the next life? "Golly, I've been so spoiled with my friends and family in this life," she says. "Next time I want to be just something quiet and supporting."

Roberts' upcoming movie Eat, Pray, Love is based on Elizabeth Gilbert's her bestselling memoir. In the book, Gilbert travels to Italy, where she consumes food (Eat), searches for spirituality in India (Pray), and finds a boyfriend in Indonesia (Love). Gilbert seems to toy with practicing spirituality and Hinduism without fully identifying herself with something specific, so it's somewhat surprising to see Roberts come out full force.

As with any bestselling idea, marketers expect to make lots of money off of products tied to the movies, reports Sandy Cohen of the Washington Post.

Soon, though, stores will be flooded with all things "Eat, Pray, Love." Look for candles and moisturizing creams; jewelry, bookmarks and tote bags; a dedicated shop at Cost Plus World Markets featuring furniture, food and clothing inspired by the film; a branded digital reader pre-loaded with the book; a Republic of Tea blend; a line of designer clothing by Sue Wong; and a weekend special on HSN filled with products pegged to the movie, including prayer beads, scarves and hundreds of other items from the countries the story's main character visits during her quest for self.

...Such partnerships work when the products and brands signing on as licensees have a natural connection to the movie or characters in question. Candles, journals and prayer beads make sense for "Eat, Pray, Love," [chief of Platinum Rye Ryan] Schinman says, noting that "there's no 'Eat, Pray, Love' phone or calculator."

You would think that there would be room for one or two sentences about the "pray" part of the book, since prayer beads seem pretty generic. It will be interesting to see whether that gets very much time in the movie and subsequently in the reviews and news coverage of the movie.

Back to Roberts, the Telegraph reported that she angered Hindus when she was shooting for the film at a temple in India last fall. At that point, it didn't appear that Roberts was necessarily practicing Hinduism. If Roberts is doing more publicity interviews, hopefully we'll see more about her new found faith.

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