Rastafari is a relatively new religion based on African traditions. Followers of the religion are called Rastafarians, Rastas, Dreads, Dreadlocks, Sufferers, or Locksmen. What started out as an entirely black-oriented religion spread throughout the world, particularly in the 1970s because of the popularity of reggae music, and currently has around one million followers in Japan, New Zealand, and elsewhere. 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 guidence.The prime basic belief of the Rastafarians is that Haile Selassie is the living God for the black race. Selassie, whose previous name was Ras Tafari, was the black Emperor of Ethiopia. Rastafarians say scriptures prophesised 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)".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 heritage and have them stand up against this Babylon.
THINGS TO DO
Rastafari doesn't have a specific religious building that is set aside for worship. Rastafarians usually meet weekly, either in a believer's home or in a community centre. The meetings are referred to as Reasoning sessions. They provide a time for chants, prayers and singing, and for communal issues to be discussed. Marijuana may be smoked to produce heightened spiritual states. The music used at these meetings is known as Nyabingi, and so when meetings are mostly musical they are often referred to as Nyabingi meetings. Meetings may also include large feasts.
Music is an important part of the rituals of Rastafari. Traditional music is called Nyabingi, which is a mix of African drum and 19th century gospel sounds. In Rasta overstanding, Nyahbingi is the mystical power of the Most High to meet justice throughout the universe. Although the genuine origin of the word that means "she possesses many things" is Ugandan, as a concept and theology, Nyahbingi has come down to the Rastaman to signify "death to the oppressors, both black and white". Therefore, it is through prayer, music and biblical reasonings that the Rastaman chants bingi, calling on the forces of nature to destroy the powers of wickedness.
Marijuana is regarded as a herb of religious significance. It is used in Rastafari reasoning sessions, which are communal meetings involving meditation. Ganja is considered the "wisdom weed" by Rastafarians, as its use helps one to gain wisdom. Rastafarians use it as a part of a religious rite and as a means of getting closer to their inner spiritual self, Jah (God) and Creation. Rastafarian consume it through smoking and eating (not recommended). The smoking of Ganja is a part of a religious ritual. When there is a large "reasoning" gathering of Rastafarians, a Chalice, which is a large smoking pipe, may be passed around and smoked. This is similar to the passing around of a communion cup by some Christian denominations. These gatherings are also called Nyahbinghi. Marijuana is used by Rastafarians to heighten feelings of community and to produce visions of a religious and calming nature. The use of marijuana is a highly ritualized act, and before it is used a prayer is uttered by all. The marijuana is rolled into a cigarette or placed into a chillum pipe. When smoked it is inhaled deeply, then held, as the devotee enters into a trance-like state.
Rastafari associate dreadlocks with a spiritual journey that one takes in the process of locking their hair (growing dreadlocks).Rastafarians are not allowed to use sharp instruments on human bodies; therefore, they are not allowed to cut hair, shave, tattoo, etc.So Rastafarians grow their hair and twirl it into dreadlocks, symbolizing a lion's
name(the Rastafari symbol is the lion). It is taught that patience is the key to growing dreadlocks, a journey of the mind, soul and spirituality. Its spiritual pattern is aligned with the Rastafari religion. People who do not understand the process sometimes mock the dreadlock style and make comments about the cleanliness of the locked hair. The way to form natural dreadlocks is to allow hair to grow in its natural pattern, without cutting, combing or brushing, but simply to wash it with pure water. For the Rastas the razor, the scissors and the comb are the three Babylonian or Roman inventions. So close is the association between dreadlocks and Rastafari that the two are sometimes used synonymously. In reggae music, a follower of Rastafari may be referred to simply as a dreadlocks or Natty (natural) Dread, whilst those non-believers who cut their hair are referred to as baldheads.
Rastafarians are encouraged to follow strict diets of clean food and drinks like vegetables, fruit, and herbal tea. They must avoid alcohol, coffee, milk, meat and shellfish (especially pork), and fish that measure more than a foot follow some strict food laws like,
- Rastafarians eat strictly I-tal which means natural and clean.
- Early Rastafarians are unlikely to eat meat, scavengers or shellfish.
- Rastafarians do not eat pork.
- Rastafarians regularly eat fish, but will not eat fish more than twelve inches long.
- Rastafarians eat copious amounts of vegetables, as they are of the earth, and therefore good.
- Food is prepared without salt, and coconut oil is the most likely form of oil to be utilized.
- Rastafarians do not drink alcohol.
- They do not drink milk or coffee, but will drink anything herbal, grown from natural roots, e.g. herbal tea.
- Rastafarians consume plentiful amounts of fruit and fruit juice.
Thus Rastafarians believe in a modern multicultural society. Rastafari stresses the concept of the humanity of God and the divinity of humans, meaning that God can appear in the form of a human. The code of rules for woman and men differ in Rastafari. However, all Rastafarians believe in reincarnation and eternal life. The protect humanity and natural life. They oppose Paganism, contraception, and abortion.