It is hard to picture a rastafarian without ganja coming to mind. Who are the Rastafari?
The Rastafari movement is a religion from the same roots as Christianity. Haile Selassie is regarded as the incarnation of god, whom they refer to as Jah. Selassie was the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. His official titles, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings and Elect of God, and his traditional lineage from Solomon and Sheba, are perceived by the Rastafari as confirmation of the return of the Messiah in the prophetic Book of Revelation in the New Testament. Selassie is considered the second coming of Jesus Christ. Rastas believe that Jesus was black and that Babylon (Western culture) has commonly depicted him as white for centuries in order to suppress the truth and gain dominion over all peoples.
The movement developed in Jamaica in the 1930s. It promotes a world view which emphasizes the importance of black people. They teach that Africa, in particular Ethiopia, is where Zion, or paradise, shall be created. Babylon is the word used to describe Western culture which is seen as totally corrupt. The word Babylon literally means confusion. Babylon also refers to the rebellion against Jah. These themes are represented by reggae artists such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Marley in particular was a powerful force in spreading the word of Jah. No other single man in modern times has advanced a religious faith to hundreds of millions in the space of three decades. Today there are over a million followers worldwide; 5-10% of modern Jamaicans are followers.
Dreadlocks are worn by Rastas as an expression of inner spirituality. The dreads are symbolic of the Lion of Judah (Selassie) and are not allowed to be cut. The religion states that they must remain whole.
Ganja (marijuana) is a sacrament to the Rastafari. The burning of the herb is often said to be essential “for it will sting in the hearts of those that promote and perform evil and wrongs.” The illegality of ganja is considered an element of Babylon, it is seen as an oppressive force. Use of other drugs such as alcohol is not permitted and believed to destroy the mind. Although it has only about one million adherents, Rastafari and its inextricable relationship with cannabis are recognized everywhere on earth.
Bob you are a legend, One Love!