Whenever Rastafarians are mentioned, the image that comes to mind is Bob Marley, or some other reggae artist. After that, people conjure up images of dreadlocked persons smoking ganja. While those two things are part of Rastafarianism, those traits alone do not make up an entire “Rasta” man or woman.
A few of the lesser-known facts about Rastafarians.
The belief in Haile Selassie I is the core of the Rastafarian religion. Marcus Garvey in the 1900s prophesied a new black king in Africa who would be the Messiah. Beginning in the 1930’s and after the crowning of Haile Selassie I as king of Ethiopia, some people believed his crowning be a fulfillment of Garvey’s prophecy. Thus, they saw Selassie as the Messiah and the Rastafarian movement was born. For his part, Selassie denied being the Messiah.
The Rastafarian flag has four colors, red, yellow, green and black. These colors are symbolic of their beliefs. Red symbolizes blood and the martyrdom of the Rastafarians, yellow symbolizes the wealth of Africa their motherland, green signifies the productivity and abundance of life in Africa and black symbolizes the black people.
The Rastafarians believe their body is a temple and should not be contaminated with anything. To take care of their ‘temples’, they have a special diet called Ital which is almost like a full vegan diet. They do not take red meat or processed foods as they believe them to be harmful. They also leave their hair to grow long as cutting it is seen as disgraceful. That is why Rastafarians have dreadlocks. They also do not tattoo their bodies in a bid to keep them pure as temples.
Rastafarians are often simultaneously mentioned and associated with marijuana. Some people are even attracted to the religion just as an excuse to smoke. But not all Rastafarians partake in the activity. Some studies have linked marijuana with adverse effects on the body and, since Rastafarian’s believe the body to be a temple, the most committed Rastafarians abstain from smoking. Smoking is perceived by them as defiling their bodies and subsequently the temple.
The Rastafarian movement borrows heavily from the Bible for its beliefs. For what the Bible calls Heaven, Rastafarians believe in too. They believe in a paradise where they will spend eternity. To them, this paradise is Africa and it is their goal to someday retire permanently on the continent. They believe that if one is not in Africa, then they are in exile. This is akin to when the Israelites were exiled in Babylon.
Of course, this is not everything there is to know about Rastafarians. Do you know more about the Rastafarian religion? Tell us!