Rastafarianism: A Way of Life

Stephanie Dunbar, Reporter
May 6, 2011
Filed under Student Life

Rastafarian; What does it mean? One usually imagines a flowing flag holding the colors red, yellow and green in a striped formation.  Along with the colors people implant the image of a famous Rastafarian and reggae singer/songwriter Bob Marley.  But, what they don’t know is that Rasta is Rastafarian for short, and Rastafarianism is much more than what meets the eyes or ears.

Rastafarian customs are relatively popular here at Sequim High School.  Whether it is wearing accessories with the colors on the Rastafarian flag, wearing dreadlocks, or creating a peaceful environment, students have found several different ways to express themselves through Rastafarianism.

Rastafarianism is a religion, but its followers refer to it more as a “way of life”.  The Rastafarian way of life takes place mainly in Jamaica, and according to the Rasta-Man website, it stems from Africa and dominates the religions in Ethiopia, whose emperor Haile Salassi happens to be the idol in which the Rastafarians worship.  Rastafarians believe in peace between all, strong spirituality, and the ability to love everyone around themselves regardless of differences. 

Rastafarians practice many rituals, but one of the most common and recognizable is smoking copious amounts of marijuana, which they refer to as the “ganja weed” or the “holy herb” according to religionfacts.com.

Smoking marijuana inspires the Rastafarians for intellectual discussions and gives them a deeper grasp of spirituality.  Rastafarians believe that marijuana is a gift from God and should be smoked as a way of worship and appreciation.

Some people, even some students at Sequim High School, take part in this form of worship and appreciation, regardless of being followers of the Rastafarian way of life.  Smoking marijuana is often times used as a tool to relax, and even concentrate.

Rastafarians also sport dreadlocks, which are commonly referred to as “dreads”.  Dreads are a hairstyle which requires no washing, and ratting of the hair with a comb into several joint strands.  The wearing of dreadlocks serves many purposes, but the main purpose is that of an underlying meaning:  Dreadlocks are inspired by a lion’s mane which “symbolizes strength, Africa, Ethiopia and the Lion of Judah.”

Several Sequim High School students are inspired by the Rastafarian way of life.  “First of all, when I look at the colors red, yellow and green, I automatically think of Bob Marley,” said Sequim High School Junior Julie Buerner.  She expresses herself with the Rasta colors by wearing belts and different pieces of jewelry with the Rasta colors.

 “When I listen to reggae, I’m usually trying to relax,” she said.  Bob Marley is a reggae artist known universally as a Rastafarian and a symbol for peace.  “Bob Marley came to the states to promote peace and to end controversy,” Buerner said.  She feels as though people are given the stereotype of a “stoner” simply for sporting the Rasta colors, but she feels it’s something more than that. 

Perhaps, students at Sequim High School sport the Rasta colors to promote the idea of universal peace and acceptance. 

Emily Jakubisin, a senior at Sequim High School also supports the Rasta lifestyle.  “I like to partake in the recreational aspect of the Rastafarian ways of life like sporting the colors, and spreading peace through all I meet,” said Jakubisun, “But most importantly, to expand my mind and think outside the box,” Jakubisun believes in what Rastafarians stand for.

Rastafarianism promotes peace and acceptance for all.  It is more than the colors red, yellow and green.  It’s more than the smoking of the ganja weed.  It isn’t just stereotypes; it’s a way of life.  “The Rastafarians see no color, feel no hate and respect everything and everyone in our planet,” said Jakubisun.  Sounds like a decent thing to stand for, doesn’t it?

 It could quite possibly be that students who support the Rastafarian ways of life are people attempting to change the world.  It is important that those who tend to associate Rastafarian supporters with a derogatory stereotype look beyond what meets the eye.

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One Response to “Rastafarianism: A Way of Life”

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