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Dreadlocks, Weed & Natural Food: 3 Cultural Traditions of Jamaican Rasta

Dreadlocks are very closely associated with the Rastafari movement, although many people who wear dreadlocks are not Rastas and many Rastas do not have dreadlocks.

The association between Rastas and dreadlocks is so deep that the terms are used interchangeably – a Rasta can be referred to as a “dreadlocks” or “natty (natural) dread“.

Dreadlocks, Weed & Natural Food: 3 Cultural Traditions of Jamaican Rasta

Read, Watch & Learn Jamaican Rasta Culture!

In previous generations, Rastas were not part of mainstream Jamaican Society and no one would wear Dreadlocks unless they were really a Rasta.

Today, due to the worldwide popularity of Bob Marley, having Dreadlocks and Rastafarian Beliefs don’t necessarily go hand in hand, as for many, Dreads are just another hairstyle.

However, for Rastafari, Locks are much more than a fashion statement!

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Read, Watch & Learn Jamaican Rasta Culture!

The Rasta cultural tradition of wearing hair in uncut, uncombed strands is derived from the Nazarite vow of being Separate Unto the Lord and letting the Locks of Hair on one’s Head Grow.

The very earliest Christians may have worn the dreadlocked hairstyle – a noteworthy description of James the Just, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, describes a Nazarite who never once cut his hair.

The Bible also depicts Samson, another Nazarite, as having “seven locks” which as Rastas explain, could only have been dreadlocks and not seven individual strands of hair!

Some say Rasta dreadlocks were copied from pictures of Mau Mau rebels in Kenya who grew their “Dreaded Locks” while hiding in the mountains and fighting for independence.

Others trace the first dreadlock Rastas to the Youth Black Faith, a group first appearing in 1949, but a variety of world faiths are also known to wear similarly matted hairstyles – such as Judaism, Hinduism, Sufi Islam and Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity.

For many, Locks symbolize the Mane of Selassie’s Conquering Lion of Judah and Rasta’s Rebellion against Babylon.