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Rasta
Rasta

The Rastafari movement is a monotheistic, Abrahamic, new religious movement
that accepts Haile Selassie I, the former, and final, Emperor of Ethiopia, as the incarnation of God, called Jah or Jah Rastafari. Haile Selassie is the physical body through which the Power of the Trinity exhibits its power here on earth, making H.I.M Haile Selassie I in reality the Holy Trinity. An example of this truth lies in the coronation name of Jesus, Emmanuel, which means God with us. It was at this point, Jesus the Christ, became one with God, or God in reality here on earth.

Other characteristics of Rastafari include the spiritual use of cannabis, rejection of western society (called "Babylon"), and various Afrocentric social and political aspirations, such as the teachings of Jamaican publicist, organizer, and black separatist Marcus Garvey (also often regarded as a prophet), whose political and cultural vision helped inspire Leonard Howell to develop the foundations of this world view. The Rastafari movement predominantly emerged in Jamaica in the 20th century, and it proclaims Africa (also "Zion") as the original place where the body of the first man was found, which established independency among blacks.

The name Rastafari is a portmanteau of "Ras" (literally "Head," an Ethiopian title equivalent to Duke and which was the pre-regnal title of Haile Selassie), and the first name of Selassie's pre-regnal given name, Tafari Makonnen. The movement is commonly referred to as "Rastafarianism", but this term is considered derogatory and offensive by some Rastas.

Many Rastas eat limited types of meat in accordance with the dietary Laws of the Old Testament; they do not eat shellfish or pork. Others abstain from all meat and flesh whatsoever, asserting that to touch meat is to touch death, and is therefore a violation of the Nazirite vow. (A few make a special exception allowing fish, while abstaining from all other forms of flesh.) However, the prohibition against meat only applies to those who are currently fulfilling a Nazirite vow ("Dreadlocks Priesthood"), for the duration of the vow. Many Rastafari maintain a vegan or vegetarian diet all of the time. Food approved for Rastfari is called ital. The purpose of fasting (abstaining from meat and dairy) is to cleanse the body in accordance to serving in the presence of the "Ark of the Covenent".

Usage of alcohol is also generally deemed unhealthy to the Rastafarian way of life, partly because it is seen as a tool of Babylon to confuse people, and partly because placing something that is pickled and fermented within oneself is felt to be much like turning the body (the Temple) into a "cemetery".

In consequence, a rich alternative cuisine has developed in association with Rastafari tenets, eschewing most synthetic additives, and preferring more natural vegetables and fruits such as coconut and mango. This cuisine can be found throughout the Caribbean and in some restaurants throughout the western world.

For Rastas, smoking cannabis, usually known as "healing of the nation", "ganja", or "herb" (from the Sanskrit word, "Ganjika", created by the Hindus of India), is a spiritual act, often accompanied by Bible study; they consider it a sacrament that cleans the body and mind, heals the soul, exalts the consciousness, facilitates peacefulness, brings pleasure, and brings them closer to Jah. 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." By the 8th century, cannabis had been introduced by Arab traders to Central and Southern Africa, where it is known as "dagga" and many Rastas say it is a part of their African culture that they are reclaiming. It is sometimes also referred to as "the healing of the nation", a phraseology adapted from Revelation 22:2.

The wearing of Locks is very closely associated with the movement, though not universal among, or exclusive to, its adherents. Rastas maintain that Locks are supported by 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.") and the Nazirite vow in Numbers 6:5 ("All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.").

Rastafari associate dreadlocks with a spiritual journey that one takes in the process of locking their hair (growing hairlocks). It is taught that patience is the key to growing locks, a journey of the mind, soul and spirituality. Its spiritual pattern is aligned with the Rastafari movement. 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.

As important and connected with the movement as the wearing of locks is, though, it is not deemed necessary for, or equivalent to, true faith. Popular slogans, often incorporated within Reggae lyrics, include: "Not every dread is a Rasta and not every Rasta is a dread..."; "It's not the dread upon your head, but the love inna your heart, that mek ya Rastaman" (Sugar Minott); and as Morgan Heritage sings: "You don't haffi dread to be Rasta...," and "Children of Selassie I, don't lose your faith; whether you do or don't have your locks 'pon your head..."

Rastas assert that their original African languages were stolen from them when they were taken into captivity as part of the slave trade, and that English is an imposed colonial language. Their remedy has been the creation of a modified vocabulary and dialect, reflecting their desire to take language forward and to confront the society they call Babylon.

Rastafari say that they reject "-isms". They see a wide range of "-isms and schisms" in modern society, for example communism and capitalism, and want no part in them. They especially reject the word "Rastafarianism", because they see themselves as "having transcended -isms and schisms." This has created conflict between some Rastas and some members of the academic community studying Rastafari, who insist on calling this faith "Rastafarianism" in spite of disapproval this generates within the Rastafari movement. Nevertheless, the practice continues among scholars. However, the study of Rastafari using its own terms has occurred.

Music has long played an integral role in Rastafari, and the connection between the movement and various kinds of music has become well known, due to the international fame of reggae musicians like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

Niyabinghi chants are played at worship ceremonies called grounations, that include drumming, chanting and dancing, along with prayer and ritual smoking of cannabis. The name Nyabinghi comes from an East African movement from the 1850s to the 1950s that was led by people who militarily opposed European imperialism. This form of nyabinghi was centered around Muhumusa, a healing woman from Uganda who organized resistance against German colonialists. In Jamaica, the concepts of Nyabinghi were appropriated for similar anti-colonial efforts, and it is often danced to invoke the power of Jah against an oppressor.

The drum is a symbol of the Africanness of Rastafari, and some mansions assert that Jah's spirit of divine energy is present in the drum. African music survived slavery because many slaveowners encouraged it as a method of keeping morale high. Afro-Caribbean music arose with the influx of influences from the native peoples of Jamaica, as well as the European slaveowners.

Reggae was born amidst poor blacks in Trenchtown, the main ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica, who listened to radio stations from the United States. Jamaican musicians, many of them Rastas, soon blended traditional Jamaican folk music and drumming with American R&B, and jazz into ska, that later developed into reggae under the influence of soul.

Reggae began to enter international consciousness in the early 1970s, and Rastafari mushroomed in popularity internationally, largely due to the fame of Bob Marley, who actively and devoutly preached Rastafari, incorporating nyabinghi and Rastafarian chanting into his music, lyrics and album covers. Songs like "Rastaman Chant" led to the movement and reggae music being seen as closely intertwined in the consciousness of audiences across the world (especially among oppressed and poor groups of African Americans and Native Americans, First Nations Canadians, Australian Aborigines and New Zealand Māori, and throughout most of Africa). Other famous reggae musicians with strong Rastafarian elements in their music include Peter Tosh, Freddie McGregor, Toots & the Maytals, Burning Spear, Black Uhuru, Prince Lincoln Thompson, Bunny Wailer, Prince Far I, Israel Vibration, The Congos, Mikey Dread, Don Carlos, The Viceroys, The Itals, Cornell Campbell, The Meditations, Wailing Souls, Norris Reid, Michael Phrophet, The Heptones, Dennis Brown, Twinkle Brothers, and hundreds more.

Today, the Rastafari movement has spread throughout much of the world, largely through interest generated by reggae music—most notably, that of Jamaican singer/songwriter Bob Marley. By 1997, there were around one million Rastafari faithful worldwide. About five to ten percent of Jamaicans identify themselves as Rastafari.

By claiming Haile Selassie I as the returned messiah, Rastafari may be seen as a new religious movement that has arisen from Judaism and Christianity. Rastafari is not a highly-organized religion; it is a movement and an ideology. Many Rastas say that it is not a "religion" at all, but a "Way of Life". Most Rastas do not claim any sect or denomination, and thus encourage one another to find faith and inspiration within themselves, although some do identify strongly with one of the "mansions of Rastafari" — the three most prominent of these being the Nyahbinghi, the Bobo Ashanti and the Twelve Tribes of Israel. In 1996, the International Rastafari Development Society was given consultative status by the United Nations.

A small but devoted Rasta community developed in Japan in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Rasta shops selling natural foods, Reggae recordings, and other Rasta-related items sprang up in Tokyo, Osaka, and other cities. For several years, "Japan Splashes" or open-air Reggae concerts were held in various locations throughout Japan. For a review by two sociologists of how the Japanese Rasta movement can be explained in the context of modern Japanese society, see Dean W. Collinwood and Osamu Kusatsu, "Japanese Rastafarians: Non-Conformity in Modern Japan," The Study of International Relations, No. 26, Tokyo: Tsuda College, March 2000 (research conducted in 1986 and 1987). Many Rastafarian Marketplaces and small shops have sprung up in Kensington Market in Toronto. Canada has a large amount of Rastafarians mainly consisting of Black people and persons of Native Canadian heritage.

Rastas dress in more traditional african clothing, often with those Jamaican hat things, with the red, green, and yellow stripes.

Image from Deviantart, info -save for the last paragraph, which is mine- from wikipedia.


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