Why Do Rastafarians Have Dreadlocks?

felixtsao/CC-BY 2.0

Rastafarians wear dreadlocks because, according to their religion, dreadlocks symbolize the mane of the Lion of Judah and their own resistance to “Babylon.” Babylon is the term used to describe the world that Rastafarians see as being plagued by oppression, capitalism and materialism. During the Rastafari movements, Rastafarians grew their dreads to distinguish their hair from the silky straight hair of those they considered to be their oppressors.

For Rastafarians, growing dreads teaches patience and is a spiritual journey. Dreadlocks are seen as a symbol of one’s loyalty to the religion, which is why most Rastafarians do choose to wear them. However, not all Rastafarians have dreadlocks, and they are not a requirement of the religion.

Rastafarians are sometimes also known as “Dreads,” “Locksmen” or “Dreadlocks” in reference to the distinctive hairstyle that is such a strong symbol of their religion to the outside world. Other Rastafarian beliefs include the use of marijuana to open a believer’s eyes to the truth, the belief that “Jah” is the true name for God and abstinence from alcohol. Rastifari also teaches that reincarnation occurs after death. Rastafari increased in popularity and spread globally in the 1970s, largely due to the life and music of Bob Marley.