Dreadlocks have become synonymous with Rastafari. Having dreads myself, it is automatically assumed that I’m a Rasta, whether the claim has merit or not. I don’t have a problem with it at all, but it poses a question. Why do people assume this? Rastafari itself doesn’t require one to dread to call themselves Rasta — yet the vast majority of them wear the mane proudly. The why behind them has almost as much reasons behind them as there are dreads on any one Rasta’s head. Some claim that it’s part of the Nazirite Vow, where one maintains a strict diet and more importantly, allows the locks of the hair to grow. Others claim it’s a symbol, stemming from the belief in the Lion of Judah, which, obviously, grows a mane. The locks are supposedly disciples of this teaching’s “mane.”
So then, knowing two of the most popularly accepted reasons for locking the hair, let’s take a look at what some of the most famous Rastas on the planet have to say about it.
Morgan Heritage is a reggae band formed in 1994 by five children of reggae artist Denroy Morgan, namely Peter “Peetah” Morgan, Una Morgan, Roy “Gramps” Morgan, Nakhamyah “Lukes” Morgan and Memo “Mr. Mojo” Morgan. In two decades, they have had a number of successful reggae albums.
You don’t haffi dread to be rasta
This is not a dreadlocks thing
Devine conception of the heart
“Being a Rasta is not simply about having dreads
This song is especially important because of the basically global misconception that anyone with Dreadlocks is a Rasta, or that anyone that’s a Rasta grows dreads
While Dreadlocks are a largely important part of Rastafarianism, it is not at all a necessity to be one
Reggae Legend Bob Marley explains why this is so.”
…Do you need me to tell you who Bob Marley is?
In a New Zealand interview, est. 1979
“Well if you Rasta then you wouldn’t say why you shouldn’t have it, because you know freedom is freedom and you don’t have to bow you do whatever you like.”
The majority of Rastas have dreads as they hold a great deal of symbolic significance in the Rastafarian culture (such as representing naturalness and simplicity as well their African roots) but ultimately he wouldn’t consider them a deciding factor in an individuals choice to practice Rastafari.
A question many ask. An excerpt from Jamaicans.com:
“Rastafarians grow their hair into dreadlocks because it is a part of the Nazarite Vow. (Also their dietary rules are part of the law) All Rastafarians take this vow and claim it is commanded by the Bible (Leviticus 21:5 “They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard nor make any cuttings in their flesh”)…
…To many Rastafarians, dreadlocks also symbolizes the mane (locks) of the lion in the Lion of Judah, which is one of titles given to all Ethiopian Kings. Emperor Haile Selassie was also very fond of lions and had them as pets around his palace. The lion is also seen as an animal that is gentle but powerful when provoked. He is the “King” of the jungle.”
Here, we can see cohesion in the mindset of these Rastas. Personally, I know very many myself — it’s a widespread consciousness throughout the Caribbean. They’ll tell you that, too. “It’s a consciousness not a religion.” The sheer amount of mental synchronization among Rastas is nothing short of amazing.
Maybe you’ve wondered why Rastas dread. You’ve racked your brain trying to figure out why it matters. In the above mentioned excerpt from Jamaicans.com, we see where both popular notions of where the look originated from are used as legitimate claims. Perhaps this is why they are widespread.
Personally — I don’t follow the strict diet… LOL I love Steak, but the Lion Of Judah/King of the Jungle resonates heavy with me, and that couples with a few other intimate reasons of mine.
This was actually my RapGenius profile pic for a while:
To stay brief, though, just remember:
Not every Rasta has dreadlocks, and not everyone with dreadlocks is a Rasta.