Rastafari Movement Condolence Practices – by Eric James
Rastafari movement is a spiritual ideology that arose in the 1930’s in Jamaica. Although it is a religion from its origin, many consider it to be a way of life referred to as Rastafarianism which is thought to be abusive by the Rastafarians. While mentioning Rastafari movement, Marcus Garvey is one of the greatest icons that cannot be forgotten.
It holds Christian and Jewish [also some Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Sufi – Editor] beliefs and believes in the existence of one God. Cannabis is viewed as spiritual. The big interest in Reggae music has increased the number of Rastafarians. The lion is commonly used to represent Haile Selassie 1, who is viewed to be the son of Jah sent to earth.
Rastafari mostly teaches unity and love among all. The Rasta philosophy is greatly opposed to violence and believes in peaceful resistance. Since Rastafarians do not have a particular place to meet during the condolence period, they have to go at the home of the deceased. Incense and oil is used during the condolence time.
The Rastafari do not believe in death hence the burials are few. [In Rastafari there is no formal funeral ceremony to mark the end of life. – Editor]
Rastas accept that there is life after death just as they believe that the death of Haile Selassie (the founder of the Rastafari religion) was a hoax. In the Rastafari dialect, burial is preferred to cremation although the wishes of the deceased are followed.
So far there are no set routine or special rites and rituals observed concerning the death of the Rastafarians.
When a member is dead, post mortem and transplant operations are forbidden by the Rastafari Religion. Organs are not supposed to be donated for research from a dead member of the Rastafari Religion. When a member is sick, family members gather to pray for the patient.
There should be no special morning ritual when giving condolence. During the condolence period, family members and friends should come together to the home of the deceased to share the memories and condolence of the deceased while eating food. While doing this, the Rastafarians should remember that their religion does not allow its members to eat meat, salt, dairy products, eggs and milk. They believe that a healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
The people giving condolence take nine nights to celebrate the deceased with a belief that he is no longer suffering in life. Friends come with drinks and food. It is believed that the spirit of the deceased passes among the people during the party time.
Stories of the deceased are told and memories are shared of the dead to family members and friends. The partying time before burial gives close family members and friends to give their goodbyes to the deceased.
The condolence meetings are held by the chaplain who has the duty to visit and infirm the sick. During the condolence period, friends and family smoke ganja as a way of peace and bringing them together. A night smoking is held where inspirations are also told which is believed to be sacral. Piercing is greatly discouraged.
Women are referred to as sisters and daughters and during this condolence time, they are not allowed to wear trousers. Rastafarians don’t eat bloody meat because they view it as a way of turning their stomachs to cemetery. No one is allowed to wear make-up during this period.
Rastafarians take vegetables during the condolence period and all other times because they believe it is natural food and life essential. Funerals are not attended after presenting condolence because it is believed that death is a chemical process that only involves change of form to another.
Passing the pipe (smoking cannabis is an essential part of the Rastafari condolence practices as it is viewed as a way of worshipping Jah. It is a way of creating unity among its members and calling unto the strength of the Almighty to come amongst the people who take part I the sacral practice. Smoking of weed is viewed as a way of bringing peace in the masses of the departed and bringing oneness amongst the users and gives them strength.
Music which is one of the most important rituals among the Rastafarians accompanies the condolence practices and it is viewed as a way of meditation. Reggae is their mass and drums are played accompanied by vocal sounds. Reggae is most popular type of music among the Rastafarians. Bob Marley is viewed as an icon when it comes to playing and listening of music as Rastafari was his religion and sang most of the reggae music.
Rastafarians are forbidden from taking alcohol even during the condolence period. They should keep their hair growing and their religion forbids against cutting their hair. They grow their hair to certain heights and twist it to dreadlocks.
The Rastafari movement is like any other religious movement except that they have strict rules that should not be broken and their biggest theme is on peace amongst themselves.
Posted 20th September 2015 by Eric James