If all you know about Rastafari is that they smoke joints and grow dreadlocks, we are here to set the record straight.

Sure Rastafari do have dreads and they do smoke marijuana, but it’s so much deeper than that.

Here are 10 facts you might not know about the movement that developed in Jamaica in the 1930s and has since spread its message across the globe.

1.Dreadlocks are not just for style.

According to Old Testament scripture (Leviticus 19:27), Rastafari believes one should not cut their hair because it is where their strength lies. Dreadlocks form naturally over time.

2. Rastafarians smoke marijuana to increase spiritual awareness.

Rastafari does not consider marijuana a drug. Instead, it is a medium that is used to open their mind and increase their spiritual awareness. Smoking marijuana is considered a religious ritual.

3. No, Bob Marley did not start the Rastafari movement.

While we might associate Mr. Marley with the movement, he didn’t actually start it! However, there is no denying that the insane popularity of his music helped spread the Rastafari way of life.


rastafari bob marley

4. Rastafari has its roots in the philosophy of Marcus Garvey.

Marcus Garvey, born in Jamaica in 1887, was a political activist and supporter of black self-empowerment. Many Rastafari considers Garvey to be a prophet, similar to John the Baptist’s role in Christianity.

rastafari marcus garvey

In his teachings, he urged those of the African diaspora to not only return to Africa but to also “look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned.” That prophecy was realized with the crowning of the last Emperor of Ethiopia.

5. Another crucial name to know Haile Selassie I.

Followers of Marcus Garvey’s teachings came together to form a religion in 1930 when Haile Selassie I became the Emperor of Ethiopia. Rastafarians consider the Emperor their messiah, naming the movement after his birth name, Ras Tafari Makonnen.

Haile Selassie I. rastafari

On April 21, 1966, Haile Selassie I visited Jamaica for the first (and only) time. The day is now considered holy, known as Grounation Day. Learn more here.

6. Rastafarians are not just in Jamaica.

There are approximately one million followers of the Rastafari movement worldwide. Thanks to music (and the Internet), the message of Rastafari has touched people everywhere.

7. Rastafarians are super healthy!

Generally, Rastas are pretty health conscious. They consider their body to be a temple, based on the Old Testament teachings.

Rastas do not drink alcohol or eat food that is not nourishing to their body, which includes meat. Many follow a strict dietary law called ital, which states that all food must be completely natural and raw.

8. Rastafarians believe Africa is paradise on earth.

Rastafarians see Africa as a paradise on earth, and at the core of the movement is the belief that all people of the African diaspora should return to their homeland. Much Rastafari hope to return to Africa during their lifetime.

9. That’s gold in the Rastafarian flag, not yellow!

A common misconception of the Rastafari flag is that its colors are red, green, black and yellow. However, the Rastafari colors are red, green, black and gold—and they were all chosen for a specific purpose. Gold (not yellow!) symbolizes the wealth of Ethiopia. If you want to know what the other colors signify, click here.

rastafari gold

10. This is not everything you need to know about the Rastafari movement.

We could never cover the entirety of the Rastafari movement in one blog post.There’s lots more to know. “Rastafarians: The Dreadlocks of Jamaica” by Leonard E. Barrett is a great place to begin your education.


*This article was originally published at www.islandoutpost.com