Just the facts on religion.

Rastafarianism Rastafarianism fast facts and introduction

Name Means

Ras Tafari Makonnen, who was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia in 1930.

Adherents

1 million

Place Founded

Jamaica

Date Founded

Generally said to be November 2, 1930, the year Emperor Hailie Selassie I (1892-1975) was crowned, but based in a movement of the 1920s.

Founder(s)

Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), a black Jamaican who taught in the 1920s and is considered a second John the Baptist.

Major Branches

Nyahbinghi Order; Bobo Shanti; Twelve Tribes of Israel

Beliefs

The Judeo-Christian God, who is called Jah. In general, Rastafarian beliefs are based in Judaism and Christianity, with an emphasis on Old Testament laws and prophecies and the Book of Revelation. Jah was manifested on earth as Jesus, who Rastas believe was black, and Emperor Haile Selassie.

Practices

Many practices based on Jewish biblical Law. Abstinence from most or all meat, artificial foods, and alcohol. Use of marijuana in religious rituals and for medicine. Wearing of dreadlocks.

Texts

Holy Piby (the "Blackman's Bible"). The Ethiopian epic Kebra Negast also revered.

Symbols

Lion of Judah, Ethiopian flag, Star of David, pan-African colors

A religion with deep political convictions, Rastafarianism began in the slums of Jamaica in the 1920s and 30s. African religious tradition has heavily influenced the culture of Rastafarianism and biblical themes have heavily influenced the religion's belief system. The most famous Rastafari is arguably Bob Marley, whose reggae music gained the Jamaican movement international recognition.

There is no formal, organized leadership in Rastafarianism, creating a wide variety of spiritual and moral variation within the religion. Some Rastafarians see Rasta more as a way of life, and others see it more as a religion. Nevertheless, uniting the diversity within the movement is belief in the divinity and/or messiahship of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, the influence of Jamaican culture, resistance of oppression, and pride in African heritage.

The Rastafarian lifestyle usually includes ritual use of marijuana, avoidance of alcohol, the wearing of one's hair in dreadlocks, and vegetarianism.

Sources