Rasta and Dreadlocks: Must all Rasta wear dreadlocks?

Rastas
Rastas

We know that all dreadlocks are not Rastas but should all Rastas have dreadlocks?

Do you have to have locks to be a Rasta? That’s a question I have been asked on numerous occasions. To be honest, I am not one hundred percent sure what the answer is, but I will do my best to answer it. First I will start with some help from Morgan Heritage where in there hit song “Don’t haffi dread”, they sang”

You don’t haffi dread to be Rasta

This is not a dreadlocks thing, divine conception of the heart

Those lyrics goes to the heart of “As a man thinketh, so is he.” This would lead me to say, Rasta is more about what is in your heart and in your head, rather than what is on your head.

Some might ask, what about the Nazarite vow. Aren’t all rastas required to take the Nazarite vow. First of all, what is the Nazarite vow? The Nazarite vow is taken from the book of Numbers, chapter 6 in the holy bible and it reads as follows:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink; he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink; neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin. All the days of the vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. All the days that he separates himself to the Lord he shall not go near a dead body. He shall not make himself unclean even for his father or his mother, for his brother or his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head. All the days of his separation he shall be holy to the Lord.

So the bible says that during the Nazarite vow, the locks of the hair should grow. Rastafarian reggae artist Tony Rebel also song the following lyrics in his song “Nazarine vow”:

Say we no bow we no gow ras then and ras now
Long time me tek fi me nazarine vow
The first time me know say rastarfari legit
Is when me tek a little prip in a number chapter six
Me read Revelation and I was astonished
Fi know the mark of the beast that is six, six, six
Me check Samson and John the Baptist
Them grow them natty dread, mek it long like wiffs
Who, me start fi grow fi me dread some more
When me read Ezekiel forty-four

Now that we have confirmed that the Nazarite vow absolutely requires one to grow their dreadlocks, the question now becomes: Do all Rastas have to take a Nazerite vow and if so how long should that vow last? I have had the fortune to visit Bobo Hill a few times and had the opportunity to reason with quite a few Rasta elders. I was told that as sure as the Christian must be born again by the water, a Rasta must take the Nazerite vow. So how long should the vow last? The duration of the vow depends on the person taking the vow. Yes, there is no set time frame. Remember the vow also states that one should stay away from wine, yet in proverbs it states that wine should be enjoyed as a blessing from God. So surely it wouldn’t be required that one goes an entire lifetime without a drink of wine.

We could even go a step further and look at Marcus Garvey and H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie. Both are very important in the Rasta trinity, yet neither wore dreadlocks. So I have to say I agree with Morgan Heritage in that “you don’t haffi dread to be Rasta.”

I am not an expert on the subject by any means. I am just a student. What I state is just my opinions based on what I have read, heard and had the opportunity to talk to some Rasta elders about. I invite all the students like myself and the experts to join in the discussion:

Are Rasta required to have dreadlocks?

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6 Comments

  1. I am also a student and no expert, but isnt there a sect of Rasta where they must wrap their dreads in public, because they have become a sign of vanity? Also, I thought dreadlocks were picked up my the Jamaican youth during Kenya’s Independence. They saw the traditional war locks of the freedom fighter and Identified with that and thats where they come from. Before that Rasta’s were identified by the beards they would grow. I am not positive or 100% for I am still learning.

  2. I’m not sure bout dreads , I’m sure wits its what’s in our Hearts belief that counts , but I wud grow my hair if I took the vow, I love rasta x

  3. The Rastafari way of life has four principles to stand on, 1.Marijuana, use in worship. 2.Ital, food without salt. 3. Locks, Rasta I D. & 4. Follow the life examples of H. I. M. By not following these principles one would not truly enjoy the glory of the Rastafarian way of life.

  4. You could compare it to Christians and their cross. Not every Christian wears one but it is a sign of commitment if you do. That is also how it goes with the dreadlocks. It’s a sign of the nazarite vow (see Samson story in the bible). Haile Selassie’s warriors used to have dreadlocks, that is where the culture comes from and Marcus Garvey was the one who pointed to Haile Selassie as the new leader in Africa. Those were the beginnings and it was the followers of that faith that wore the dreadlocks after, the Rastas, who believe in Haile Selassie. I hope this helps clear some points.

    • Neither Halie Selassie or Marcus Harvey had dreads. Plus in the Nazarite vow, it said “locks of hair”. Locks of hair is simply craving any section of hair. Locks are just a section of hair. No where does it say you have to keep your hair in cylinder twist. But to be true to nature is a beauty and weave and bleach cream should be a no no period for any religion.

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