Rastafarianism started in Jamaica in the 1930s and since then it has spread all over the world mainly with the help of reggae music. Rastafarianism is technically an off shoot of Christianity but in many ways it has fundamental differences with mainstream Christianity. Followers of Rastafarianism are called Rastas/Rastafarians
Rastafarians believe that Emperor Haile Selassie (an Ethiopian Emperor) is the reincarnation of Jesus as prophesied by the famous pan-Africanist, Marcus Garvey in his own words: “Look to Africa where a black king shall be crowned, he shall be your Redeemer “.. This statement was considered a prophecy and was soon followed by the crowning of Haile Selassie I as the Emperor of Ethiopia. Rastafarian saw this as the fulfillment of Garvey’s words. Haile Selassie, whose real name was Ras (Prince) Tafari Makonnen, became known as the Black Messiah or Jah Rastafari. Selassie is a symbol of salvation and Rasta’s believe he will save blacks from white suppression and reunite them with their African homeland. Rastas strongly reject the European form of Christianity (including White symbols of divinity such the white Jesus) which Rastafarians believe facilitated the oppression of black people through slavery and colonialism. Rastafarianism is a rejection of this and a way of finding the pure way towards God (whom they call Jah) May of the rituals and practices of the Rastafarians are a form of a rebellion against the euro centric form of Christianity.
Rastafarianism is about spirituality, it’s a way of life, It’s about consciousness and living in harmony with nature. And as such most Rastafarians tend to live a very simple and ascetic lifestyle marked by vegetarianism and profound simplicity. One of the most distinctive features of Rastas is the dreadlocks. Rastas symbolize their faith by keeping dreadlocks.
Another feature of Rastafarianism that makes it unique is the spiritual usage of Marijuana (weed). To the Rastafarian, weed is a sacred and smoking it is a way of obeying Jah(God).
Finally, rastas are known for their immense love for reggae, in fact most reggae artist are themselves Rastafarians. Reggae music has been used by Rastafarians to spread their message to the world (a lot of their messages are centered on egalitarianism) and to some extend reggae serves as a bridge between the Rastafarian community and the world. One of the most famous of such artist is Bob Marley .