There are not too many people who are aware of what the Rastafari religion is all about. So before we embark on the course of discussing then religious holidays and the dates for the same in the year 2019, let us look into what the religion is all about.
Rastafari religion is an Abrahamic or monotheistic religion that originated in the 1930 s in Jamaica. It came into being after the great Haile Selassie I got coroneted to the throne of Ethiopia and ascended the throne in 1930.
The word Rastafari came into being as Haile Selassie I was known as Rastafari before he ascended the throne. The name is an amalgamation of Ras which used to be his title and Tafari which used to be part of his first name Tafari Makonnen. In Ethiopia, the local language is Amheric. According to Amheric, Ras literally means Head. Tafari, sounding like Teferi literally denotes someone who is revered by all. The new emperor could also trace back his family lineage to King Solomon and Queen Sheba.
People who are ardent followers of the Rastafari religion worship a single omnipotent God, who is referred to as the Jah. According to them Jah is the singuolar form of the Holy Trinity as mentioned in the Bible – which is the union of the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
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According to the Rastafari belief, jah, the Holy Spirit lives in all human beings as he gets incarnated in them. in this essence true to their thoughts of the Jah being in all human beings; they believe in the equality of all human beings. This is as mentioned earlier, because they believe that the Jah resides in all human beings.
The worshippers and followers of the Rastafari religion believes that Haile Selassie I was an incarnation of God, who actually is the Father of the Holy Trinity. There are some people who believe that it was the second arrival and advent of Jesus Christ, the King of the World.
Therefore the Rastafari religious beliefs are similar to those of the Christian beliefs and ideals. Just as the Christians believed in the concept of the Trinity of God, they did too. They believed that there was one God, Jah who had sent forth his Son as the Divine Incarnation, and who was known as Yeshua (Jesus). The son then gradually metamorphosed himself into a divine manifestation and was believed to be the great Haile Selassie I. However though they believed in the teachings of the Bible, they also believed that with the passage of time a lot of the meanings and teachings of the Bible had been tainted or wrongly interpreted.
The Rastafari people uphold idealism and denounce all that degenerates and taints the social fabric. These include materialism, sensuality, oppression and numerous other things. The Rastafari followers allow and uphold the use of Cannabis for the strict purpose of spiritual upliftment. Ethiopia is called as Zion, where they believe the human civilization took birth from. They also firmly believe that all human beings should be sent back or repatriated to Ethiopia, from where they should start life afresh with a fresh perspective. They followers also understand the logical impossibility of all people migrating to Ethiopia and thus teach and advocate a oneness in mind with the country. To them Ethiopia is the Promised Land and the place which brings down heaven on earth.
The famous musical personality Bob Marley placed Rastafari in the global map.
Let us take a look at what are the major festivals of the Rastafaris and their brief synopsis and significance.
- Ethiopian Christmas day – January 7th – Saturday- The Rastafari followers have an intricate connection with Christianity and have been closely connected with the Ethiopian culture since 330 AD. This is the day when according to the traditional Ethiopian calendar the Rastafari people celebrate Christmas. The worshippers visit churches and also abstain from eating meat.
- Grounation Day- April 21st – Friday – This is the day when the emperor Haile Selassie I is believed to have visited Jamaica in the year 1966. As the Rastafarians believe the emperor Haile Selassie I to be the manifestation of God and one who would lead them to gospel, peace, unity and salvation; this is a big occasion. Since it is a joyous occasion, people celebrate by dancing singing and making merry.
- Ethiopian Constitution Day – July 16th – Sunday – emperor Haile Selassie I is believed to have adopted the constitution of Ethiopia on this day in the year 1931. This is also the day when numerous people were appointed as deputies, though the supreme powers rested with the omnipotent emperor. This is traditionally a day when the people discuss the historical significance of this day and also talk about the origin of the Rastafari religion.
- Birthday of Emperor Haile Selassie I – July 23rd – Sunday – An absolute auspicious occasion for the Rastafari people. On this day in the year 1892, the great Emperor Haile Selassie I was born. According to the Rastafarians peoples; beliefs the Emperor finds mention in the Bible and thus has immense importance. As they believed him to be a messenger and a direct incarnation of God, tthis day holds special significance.
- Marcus Garvey’s Birthday – August 17th – Thursday – on this day the great Marcus Harvey was born in 1887. He is as revered as St John the Baptist in the Rastafari religion and their mindset. While he was alive he influenced million of people and started honoring the African heritage and culture in America. He played a distinct role in freeing and establishing the rights of the Black people. The devotees consider this to be a joyous day as the man was considered to be a great visionary and philosopher. On this day joyous merrymaking and music is played.
- Ethiopian New Year’s Day- September 11th – Monday – The rastafari people abounding in the world consider Ethiopia to be their Holy Motherland, where they might not have been able to live, but emotionally are synched. Thus the Ethiopian New year’s day is celebrated with much pomp and splendor. This is of course a joyous occasion.
- Crowning of Emperor Haile Selassie I- November 2nd – Thursday – on this day in the year 1930 the great Haile Selassie I was crowned and he ascended the throne. This is of importance to the Rastafari people as they believe that Emperor Haile Selassie I was the Messiah of God and was the Son of God himself. This is an extremely happy day and the devotees spend the day by reading the scriptures and singing devotional songs.