From 1845 to 1917, after the declaration of the emancipation of African slaves in the colonial Caribbean, more than 36,000 East Indians immigrants were invited by the English to work on the Jamaican plantations. Among them, were the Hindu priest, the Sadhus, known as the holy men. They were the first to plant marijuana plant in Jamaica, known as ganja, from India, which is a sacrament to the Hindu goddess Kali, the goddess of power, and Shiva or Mahadeva, the Great God. Like the former black slaves, they lived a rustic life, they were vegetarians, and they wore dreadlocks. Their beliefs began to influence the Jamaicans.
Hindu cult Influence on Rastafari livity
Rastafarians took the idea of Hailie Selasie as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. This is because, earlier, many Jamaicans were not comfortable with Christianity, because they thought it was the religion of their slave masters. Hinduism would turn out to be a revivalist culture as they accepted Kali, the Hindu goddess.
Leonard Howell, alongside Joseph Hibbert were the first preachers of the Rastafarian movement. Both of them were Garveyite. But unlike Hibbert who was a Christian, Howell was not. He was leaning towards Hinduism. Howell was convinced that the Whiteman had their God in Jesus Christ, Indians had their God in Brahma, the Asian had their God in Krishna and Buddha, Africans must have their God somewhere.
In 1930, during the coronation of Ras Tafari as Emperor Hailie Selasie the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Leonard Howell declared him as the East African God. After the declaration, Leonard Howell then began to incorporate of Hindu cult to Rastafari. In the Ethiopian language of Amharic, Hailie Selasie means power (Hailie) of the trinity (Selasie), and Ras Tafari is King (Ras) who inspires (Tafari). In Hindu, Rasta means path to divinity.
The name Ganja for marijuana is name after Hindu goddess Ganja. It is believed that the Indians named the longest river, River Ganges, after the sacred goddess Goddess Ganja, because of all the beautiful herb that grows right from the riverbanks.
The smoking of ganja is the invoking of the Hindu goddess Kali, the goddess of power. Ganja is part of the goddess Kali. The smoking of ganja is a sacrament to the Hindu holy men, the Sadhus. Same ganja is a sacrament Rastafari. The Goddess Kali was hailed as Jai Kali Maa, meaning victory to Kali maa. Jai kali maa is interpreted as Ja Rastafari.
Vegetarianism and isolating menstruating women from the kitchen is a practice of Hindu in India. The legend Bob Marley, the reggae icon named himself the Tuff Gong, a name associated with Leonard Howell, which is a Hindu word for a trumpeter.
In all, these are influence of the Indian and Hindu culture in Rastafari livity. Let Ja Rastafari be praised. Let knowledge cover the earth so we know where we are coming, and where we are going. Ja Rastafari!
By: Michael Sumaila Nlasia
Email: [email protected]