Rastafari Culture: History, Characteristics, Customs

The Rastafari culture is classified as a religious movement developed in Jamaica during the years 1930. Rastafari refers to their beliefs, which are based on a specific interpretation of the bible known as Rastalogy.

The followers of this culture give central importance to the ancient emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie. Many followers regarded him as the reincarnation of Jah on Earth and as the Second Coming of Christ. Others regard him as a human prophet who recognized the inner divinity within each individual.

Rastafari Culture: History, Characteristics, Customs

The Rastafari culture is Afrocentric and focuses its attention on the African diaspora, which is considered as oppressed by Western society or 'Babylon'.

Many practitioners call for a resettlement of the African diaspora in Ethiopia or in Africa, referring to this continent as the Promised Land of Zion.

Other interpretations focus more on the adoption of an Afrocentric attitude still living outside Africa. Rastas refer to their practices as 'livity'. Rastas meetings are characterized by music, chants, discussions and the use of cannabis.

Rastas place an emphasis on what they regard as 'living naturally', adhering to dietary requirements ital, allowing your hair to form dreadlocks (rastas) and following patriarchal gender roles.

The Rastafari Movement

History and Background

Rastafari culture originated in the poor and socially deprived communities of their rights in Afro-Jamaican communities during the 1930s in Jamaica.

His Afrocentric ideology was a reaction against the then dominant Jamaican English culture. The Rastafari was influenced by Ethiopianism and the Return to Africa Movement.

During the 1950s, the Rastafari counter culture had come into conflict with Jamaican society, including violent clashes. But for the decade of 60-70 gained respect and greater visibility thanks to rasta reggae musicians like Bob Marley.


Rastas refer to all of the ideas and beliefs as Rastalogy. Emphasis is placed on the idea that personal experience and intuitive understanding should be used to determine the validity of a particular belief or practice.

Beliefs are influenced by Judeo-Christian religion. The Rastafarians believe in a god they call Jah. The Babylon represents the ultimate evil since it was the origin of the suffering; they expect the dominant white society to think their beliefs are false.

The Zion is the ideal to which it aspires. This term is used in reference to Ethiopia or to all Africa, a land that has a mythological identity in the Rastafari speech.

His moral principles are to love God and love the neighbor. The Rastafari is patriarchal, sees the woman as an inferior being.

Practices and customs of the Rastafari culture

Religious and cultural practices of dreadlocks are referred to as livity. Rastafari does not have professional priests, since the dreadlocks do not believe there is a need for a mediator between divinity and practitioner.


This is the term used to refer to the establishment of relations between Rastafari practitioners. Groundings often take place in a community or courtyard and are presided over by an elder. This senior person is in charge of maintaining discipline in the group.

Some activities that take place during groundings are drumming, hymn singing, recitation of poetry, discussions of current and early events, and marijuana or ganja smoke.

Spiritual use of cannabis

One of the main rituals of this culture is smoking cannabis. When smoked in ritual contexts, dreadlocks refer to it as the 'sacred herb'.

In addition, they also ingest it in tea, as a culinary herb and as an ingredient in medicines.


Rasta culture seeks to produce food 'naturally' by eating what they call italian the natural food. This is often organically and locally produced.

Most dreadlocks adhere to the dietary laws that appear in the Book of Leviticus of the Old Testament, so they avoid pork and crustaceans.

Other practitioners remain totally vegetarian and avoid the addition of any additive, such as sugar and salt, in their food.

Rastas typically avoid food produced by non-Rastafari practitioners or from unknown sources.

Practicing men also refuse to eat food prepared by a woman who is menstruating. They also avoid alcohol, cigarettes, heroin and cocaine.


Rastafari practitioners want to visually differentiate themselves from non-practitioners; One of these brands is the formation of dreadlocks in your hair.

The formation of dreadlocks or dreadlocks is inspired by the bible, and is related as a symbol of strength related to Samson.

Many times the dreadlocks are combed in styles that mimic the mane of a lion, symbolizing Haile Selassie. The dreadlocks represent the commitment to the Rasta idea of ​​naturalism and the refusal to conform to aesthetic standards and standards.


The Rastafari music was developed in the sessions where chants, drums and dancing were present. Rastafari music is a way to support Jah.

When this music is played, the rejection of Babylon is reaffirmed. Rastas believe that their music has healing properties.

Many of the songs are sung to the tone of old Christian hymns, but others are original Rastafarian creations.

The ritual rhythms of the Rasta began to be incorporated into reggae, and this genre also incorporates dreary songs, languages, motives and social criticism.


Rastas treat words as having some intrinsic power, Rastafari language reflects the rastas' own experiences; also supports group identity and cultivates a particular group of values.

Rastas believe that the English language is a tool of the Babylon, for which they had to form their own language


The Rastafari is not a homogeneous movement and has no unique administrative structure or leader. Centralized and hierarchical structures are avoided because they want to avoid replicating the formal structures of Babylon.

The Rastafari culture is similar to the structures of other African Diaspora traditions such as the Haitian voodoo, Cuban Santeria and the Zion Renaissance of Jamaica.

Rastas are considered members of an exclusive community, the membership of which is restricted only to those who recognize the importance of Haile Selassie. Rastas are considered as the 'enlightened' who 'have seen the light'.

Many of their practitioners do not establish good relationships with non-Rastafarians as they believe they will never accept Rastafarian doctrine as truth.


  1. Culture Rastafari. Recovered from slideshare.com
  2. Rastafari culture. Retrieved from discussion.uvm.edu
  3. Rastafari. Retrieved from wikipedia.org
  4. All about rasta culture. Retrieved from nyahbingiman.galeon.com.

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