By mentioning Rastafari, reggae music and Jamaicans straight up come to mind. On the contrary, the movement is not limited to Jamaicans, dreadlocks, and reggae music. In the words of the great reggae musician Morgan Heritage, through his song “Don’t Haffi Dread,” you don’t ha fi dread to be Rasta (you don’t have to have dreadlocks to be Rasta). Here are some Rastafarianism facts to help you understand the movement better.
1. Rastafarianism Is a Religion
Rastafarianism is an ethnic religion that started and developed during the 1930s. Religion scholars classify it as both a social and new religious movement. Sometimes referred to as Rastafari, Rastafarianism practitioners are called Rastas or Rastafarians.
2. Rastafarians Believe in Reincarnation
Also known as rebirth or transmigration, reincarnation refers to the coming back of a deceased person in new physical forms. Rastafarians believe those strong in faith will be reincarnated while the rest will perish.
3. Rastafarianism Shares A Lot In Common With Christianity
Even though Rastafarians believe the Bible was initially written in the Ethiopian language, Amharic, contrary to what scholarly materials say about the book’s compilation, the two religions share a lot in common. Though some interpretations differ, they both read and adhere to the Bible’s teachings. For them, the Bible explains the past, present, and predicts the future.
4. Indians Introduced Marijuana to Jamaicans and Rastafarians
Marijuana and Rastafarians almost go hand in hand. Believers rate it so highly and consider it a “holy herb.” Interestingly, it’s Indians who introduced marijuana to Jamaicans and, more so, Rastafarians. They even named it “ganja,” a name that is still popular to date.
5. Rastafarians Believe in Monotheism
The Rastafarianism ideas and beliefs are called Rastalogy. Rastafarians agree that there is only one God called Jah, a short form for Jehovah. They believe that God is man and man is God; they not only believe in him but also claim to “know” him. To narrow the gap between divinity and humanity, Rastafarianism acknowledges mysticism.
6. Snoop Dogg Was Excommunicated By Rastafarians
Snoop Dogg, an American rapper and public figure, was excommunicated by the Rastafari Council because he attempted to change his name to “Snoop Lion.” Apparently, the religion views lions as sacred, placing them on their flags, artworks, and tabernacles.
Additionally, most believers, including Bunny Wailer, were not convinced of the artist’s beliefs, principles, and, more importantly, his faith transition. Therefore, Snoop Dogg’s attempt was interpreted as insulting, leading to his excommunication.
7. Bob Marley Refused a Potentially Curative Surgery Because of His Rastafari Beliefs
At 36, many of Bob Marley’s fans believe the reggae superstar passed on too early. He was diagnosed with melanoma, a type of skin cancer he eventually succumbed to. It is believed that Bob had an option to undergo surgery on his big toe that could cure his disease. However, he turned it down because of his Rastafari beliefs.
8. Rastafarians Acknowledge the Biblical Jesus But Not the Traditional Way
In the Bible, Jesus is a popular figure whom Christians believe was the son of God sent to save them from their sins. While Rastafarians acknowledge Jesus, they do not share the same view as traditional Christians.
Contrary to the depiction that Jesus was white, Rastafarians believe he was a black African. They believe the white version was a white man’s creation to oppress the black Africans.
9. Some Parts of the World Where Marijuana is Illegal Allow Rastafarians to Possess the Drug
Marijuana remains illegal in most parts of the world due to its high addictiveness. However, countries such as Italy allow Rastafarians to possess and use the drug because it is sacred to the religion.
10. The Bible Is Not the Only Rastafarian Reference
While Rastafaris learn and live by most bible teachings, they also believe the book was hugely corrupted in its translation. They, therefore, take everything they read from the book with a pinch of salt. Some alternative texts include the Royal Parchment Scroll of Black Supremacy by Fitz Balintine Pettersburg, Holy Piby by Robert Rogers, and The Promised Key by Leonard Howells.
11. Haile Selassie Is A Popular Figure in Rastafarianism
Haile Selassie was Ethiopia’s emperor, reigning from 1930 to 1974. Today, he plays a massive role in Rastalogy. While referencing how they interpret the Book of Revelation’s 19th chapter, most Rastafarians believe he was Jesus’ second coming.
They view him as the messiah prophesied in the Bible’s Old Testament. He is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.
12. Haile Selassie Denied Divinity Several Times
Even though Rastafarians rate him highly, a deity perhaps, Haile Selassie, Ethiopia’s emperor from 1930 to 1974, constantly denied divinity. In his view, Selassie thought of himself as a human like anybody else, mortal, and replaceable.
13. It Took a While for Rastafarianism to Be Accepted in Jamaica
Rastafarianism originated in Jamaica. However, their journey to acceptance that they boast today was not straightforward. For instance, in April 1963, about 150 Rastafarians were arrested and manhandled by the police. The incident became the famous “Bad Friday” in Jamaica’s history.
14. Bob Marley Helped Push the Rastafari Religion
Idolized for being among the pioneers of reggae music, the memories of Bob Marley live on, especially for Rastafarians worldwide. A Rastafari convert himself, Bob Marley used his influence to highlight his beliefs and trust in Rastafarianism. He pushed the idea in his tours to Africa, the United States, and Europe; he was the religion’s poster boy.