How Do Rastafarians Pray?

by Hallie Engel
Reggae musician Bob Marley was a famous Rastafarian.

Reggae musician Bob Marley was a famous Rastafarian.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

With roughly a million adherents spread around the world, Rastafarianism is a branch of Christianity with roots in Africa. Rastas are known for their dreadlocks, a hairstyle inspired by the Bible, and also follow a special dietary code that shuns meat and alcohol in favor of fruits and vegetables. Prayer may take many forms in the Rastafarian faith and often involves music.

About Rastafarianism

Rastafarianism is based on the belief that Haile Selassie I, who was the king of Ethiopia from 1917 to 1930, is an incarnation of God. Followers of the religion believe Selassie will return and give Africa back to black people, who lost their land due to slavery and colonization. Like other Christians, Rastas revere the Bible as their main holy text and many aspects of their faith and lifestyle are inspired by its passages.

Rastafarian Prayer and Marijuana

Rastafarians regard marijuana as a sacred herb and use it as a part of prayer and worship. Consumption of marijuana, which rastas often call "wisdom weed," involves saying a special prayer before it is smoked in a group setting in what is known as a "reasoning session." During these sessions, Rastas use marijuana to "produce visions of a religious and calming nature," according to the BBC, and may read from the Bible, sing or discuss important issues.

Music and Prayer

Traditional music, known as nyabinghi, is of central importance to Rastafarian prayer. Combining traditional African drums with 19th-century gospel, nyabinghi typically accompanies reasoning sessions and other forms of prayer. The rhythm of traditional drums is believed to deepen the spiritual effects of prayer and reasoning sessions. Often, nyabinghi is accompanied by the recitation of traditional chants, which are also a form of prayer, with lyrics about Africa, freedom and the redemption of black people.

Dance

Just as music plays an important role in Rastafarian prayer, dancing is also a key part of religious worship. On special occasions and Rasta holy days, like Groundation, which celebrates the arrival of Haile Selassie I in Jamaica, believers take part in dances that may last for several days, according to Religion Facts. Special Rasta events will bring thousands of people together for singing and dancing in a special tabernacle.

About the Author

Hallie Engel is a food and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in several international publications. She served as a restaurant critic for "Time Out Abu Dhabi" and "Time Out Amsterdam" and has also written about food culture in the United Arab Emirates for "M Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and film studies from University of Amsterdam.

Photo Credits

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