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Unformatted text preview: RASTAFARI
By Brian Andersen RASTA
RASTA CULTURE Ethiopia, specifically, Africa in general, is considered the Rasta's
heaven on earth, the homeland. The basic beliefs of a Rasta is to uphold the truth and defend
good over evil. Having dreadlocks is not central to being a
Rasta One of the more obvious symbols of the
Rastafarians are colours. These are red, gold,
and green. These colours were taken from the
Garvey movement. The colour red stands for
the Church Triumphant which is the church of
the Rastas. It also symbolizes the blood that
martyrs have shed in the history of the Rastas.
The yellow represents the wealth of the
homeland. Green represents the beauty and
vegetation of Ethiopia, the promised land.
Sometimes black is used to represent the colour INFLUENCE ON THE WORLD
INFLUENCE The Rastafarian religion originated in Africa.
It is often associated with the poorer black
population of Jamaica. It is not just a
religion, but a way of life. Rastafarians speak
out against; poverty, oppression and
inequality.....not just religious ideas but global
problems. Rastafarians will use the Bible for
guidance Number of Adherents: About 700,000
worldwide. Clergy: None, individual believers are
autonomous. Requirements to join: Non blacks are
discouraged generally, however, there is no
official bar to anyone.
IDEOLOGY Avoid what they view as the materialistic
and corrupt white culture Rastafarian theology emphasizes
individual apprehension of God (called
Jah), and one who is "dread," that is,
God-fearing, a belief that is referred to
theologically as "theosis," or God
becoming. Babylon is the Rastafarian term for the
white political power structure that has
been holding the black race down for
centuries. In the past, Rasta see that
blacks were held down physically by the
shackles of slavery. In the present, Rasta
feel that blacks are still held down
through poverty, illiteracy, inequality,
and trickery by the white man. The effort
of Rasta is to try to remind blacks of their FOUNDER Emperor Haile Selassie I is
the only foundation stone
of the Rastafarian Faith November 2, 1930
Crowned “King of Kings,
Elect of God, and
Conquering Lion of the
Tribe of Judah” Selassie was not a
Rastafarian himself. He
was a devout Christian.
was The Lion of Judah
represents Haile Selassie,
the Conqueror. It
represents the King of
Kings as a lion is the king
of all beasts. Selassie wore a Lion of
Judah ring that was given
to Bob Marley at the time SPIRITUAL PRACTICES Church/temple: None; worship is often by small groups in homes. Gatherings
of believers, called Nyahbinghi, usually center around the sharing of the
"Chalice," a large ceremonial pipe containing the Rastafarian sacrament,
Ganga (Marijuana), a practice likened to the Christian communion ceremony.
Ganga There is no unified Rasta "church" or fixed set of beliefs, no set doctrine of
what Rastas believe. Numerous different sects of Rastas all have the freedom to
believe many different things. Women's role in the Rastafarian movement are
a subordinate one, but not in an abusive position.
subordinate The King James version is the translation almost unanimously used. This
actually conflicts with their position on Babylon, since it was translated by a
committee of mostly white men from universities issued under the mandate of
King James. It represents all that they are against.
King Rastafarians use the scriptures for guidance as long as it agrees with their own
pre-conceived ideas and understanding. But the way it is interpreted is highly
questionable SPIRITUAL RITUAL
SPIRITUAL Ganja, is used for religious purposes for
Rastafarians. Its use is written in the Bible
in Psalms 104:14, "He causeth the grass for
the cattle, and herb for the service of man".
The use of this herb is very extensive among
the Rastas not only for spiritual purposes as
in their Nyabingi celebration, but also for
medicinal purposes for colds and such. The
following are a few of the many Biblical texts
that Rasta embrace as reasons Jah, gave for
the use of the herb: They smoke "spliffs of ganja "-marijuana
cigarettes religiously This is illegal in Jamaica as well as in
America, but they believe it is their religious
privilege. ". . . thou shalt eat the herb of the field "
(Genesis ". . . eat every herb of the land " (Exodus
". RASTA GODS
RASTA The prime basic belief of the Rastafarians is that Haile Selassie is the
living God for the black race.
living Rastafarians say scriptures prophesized him as the one with "the
hair of whose head was like wool (the matted hair of I black man),
whose feet were like unto burning brass (I black skin)". Selassie was not a Rastafarian himself. He was a devout Christian.
In fact, no one is really sure what he thought of the whole
Rastafarian movement. When a group of Rastas went to Ethiopia to
honour him, an official of the palace told them to go away! This did
not make the Rastas question their belief, it only made it stronger.
God is not supposed to know he is God. The Rastafarian name for God is Jah.
The Ethiopia, specifically, Africa in general, is considered the Rastas'
heaven on earth
heaven Rasta's believe that Jah will send the signal and help the blacks
exodus back to Ethiopian, their homeland. DEATH AND THE AFTERLIFE
DEATH There is no afterlife or hell as Christianity
believes. The Rastas feel that their
ancestors did something to offend Jah
which brought them into an exile of
slavery in the Western World such as the
Dreads "Dreadlocks were inspired by a
biblical injunction against the cutting
of one's hair”
of It is symbolic of the spirit of the Lion
of Judah. It also represents the Rasta's'
roots, distinguished from the straight
blond hair of the white man and his
establishment The Bible verse Leviticus 21:5, "They
shall not make baldness upon their
head, neither shall they shave off the
corner of their beard, nor make any
cuttings in the flesh." This has also
come to symbolize rebellion against the
Babylon The hair is grown as long as possible
and styled in braided like individual
clumps and curls There are schools that have problems
with the dreadlocks hairstyle and are
trying to outlaw it DIET
DIET True Rastafarians are vegetarians Use no salt, some eat meat, but most will not
eat pork. Fish is a staple I-tal food; however, no crabs,
lobster, or shrimp are eaten as they are
scavengers of the sea (following the Levitical
law). No liquor, milk, coffee, or soft drinks are
consumed, as they are unnatural. (not
followed as strictly as the food requirements.) This is special food never touches chemicals
and is not in cans. This food is cooked, but
served in the rawest form possible; without
salts, preservatives, or condiments. Drinking
preferences rest with anything that is herbal,
such as tea. The term I-tal food is rapidly
taking hold in the consumer industry in
Jamaica. MUSICAL INFLUENCE
MUSICAL Reggae began to take a religious tone with the Rastafarian conversion of
musician Bob (Robert) Marley, who is almost exclusively responsible for
introducing Rastafarian beliefs to the mainstream. Some Reggae messages are
positive and upbeat, but most are politically- oriented messages. Music themes
of oppression, poverty, Slavery, apartheid and human rights are often the
music's message. Reminding them of their plight to gain freedom. These are
not just religious or political ideas, but global problems for all. This is not just
about the struggle of the black people, but of all who are oppressed. In this way
their music speaks to people outside the Rastafarian movement.
their Reggae has its appeal to young people who are found in the drug culture. It
offers religious justification for smoking the weed. They teach it opens one up
spiritually to hear from God.
spiritually The message sung is peace, love, unity and brotherhood of all mankind . This
becomes the message of hope for a new tomorrow. They sing about one love
and one world. Clearly the message is man-centered as we can come together
and do this despite our different beliefs
and Important days
Important January 6 - Ethiopian Christmas
February 6 - Bob Marley's birthday
April 21 - The anniversary of Emperor Haile
Selassie I's visit to Jamaica. Also known as
Grounation July 23 - The birthday of Emperor Haile
Selassie I August 17 - The birthday of Marcus Garvey
August November 2 - The coronation of Emperor
November My Thoughts
My I chose to research the Rastafarian way of life because it is one of those belief
systems that I have come into contact with but don’t really understand what it
is all about. I was introduced to the Rastafarian culture through my guitar program in high
school. Our guitar program played as many types of music from as many
different cultures as possible, and through this exploration of music I was
formally introduce to the music of Bob Marley.
formally After researching the ways of the Rastafari, I have come to the conclusion that
their way of life and their beliefs are ones that I respect and admire. I have
grown up in a Catholic household, so many of their beliefs seemed strange at
first. But soon the Rastafarian way of life started to become more interesting
and exciting than strange.
and One aspect of their way of life that always bothered me was the smoking of
ganga. In high school there were people who seemed to be embracing the rasta
way of life but the aspect that they seemed most interested in was the smoking
of ganga. They took a peaceful and loving way of life and basically reduced it
to a group of dope smoking people who didn’t seem to have any motivation in
life. And that first experience of the “rasta” way of life made me hold the rasta MY THOUGHTS CONT.
MY I think that it is very honorable that Rastafarians are beginning to focus more
on the purity of a person’s heart rather than the color of their skin or their
gender. They are a people who care immensely for the community, the
environment, and those who share the world with them. They are more about
everyone getting along peacefully than about who’s way of thinking is the
“right” I think that everyone, no matter what origin of faith or lack there of, can
respect the Rastafari for their caring nature and love of the earth and all of its
inhabitants. The interesting thing about the Rastafari is that time and time again I saw the
same description of what it means to be Rastafari. The Rastafari say that
“Rasta in not just a religion, it is a way of life”. They incorporate the rasta way
into everything they do. They will only eat the purest food and want nothing to
do with man-made chemicals and additives. They also seem to be seeking an
enlightened state of mind all the time. They “religiously” smoke ganga all day
in order to be in a relaxed and enlightened state of mind.
in Now that my research of the Rastafari is complete I find that I still want to
keep learning about their culture and other aspects of their lives that I wasn’t
able to delve into. I actually want to write questions up on the Rastafari
website that Ixudah runs so that I can further understand aspects of their way
of life that I really couldn’t find just by researching what was out at the time.
of I think that this project has helped me to learn about a culture that I would
BIBLIOGRAPHY "Rastafari Movement." Wikipedia. 11 Oct. 2005
This is a website that is set up to be for reference. It is basiclally
an online encyclopedia. I found it very helpful in getting the core
information about the Rastafari religion. It covers almost all of
the aspects that one would want to know about. It is very easy to
navigate through the information.
navigate 19 04 2005 <http://www.rastafarian.net/>.
This is a insiders website. It is has great links to other sites that
deal with the Rastafari way of life. This site offers people the
chance to ask questions and a Rastafari who goes by the name
Ixudah answers whatever an interested person would like to
know. Littman, Kyle . "Rastafarianism." 2000.
This website is the one that was created by a professor from the
University of Virginia. It covers everything that deals with the
Rastafari. There is abundant information on the info that ranges
from the history of the Rastafari to their beliefs. Also it lists
many books and sites that will further aid in researching the ...
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This note was uploaded on 11/19/2011 for the course REL 101 taught by Professor Ernst during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.
- Spring '11
- Religious Studies