The Journey of Life (life cycle)

Birth is celebrated with a Nyabinghi, the same can be held for a formal marriage ceremony. However, it is not necessary, and a man and woman living together are regarded as married whether or not a ceremony is held. There is generally no funeral ceremony for Rastas, who believe in reincarnation and that following Rastafari ways faithfully grants eternal life. Only evil things die. Atoms form new babies and life continues. People only die if they are unfaithful to Jah and have not followed the ways that grant proper self-preservation. This means that a true Rasta cannot die. When people do die, it is explained away by saying the dead person had strayed from true path of Rastafari somehow. Death is seen as unnatural and avoidable, an evil brought about by the influences of Babylon. Dying is called ‘transitioning’ to denote that it is not the end of that person’s life but a change to a new body. Rastafari believe reincarnation occurs with the same identity despite a change in physical form. This is how the line of black prophets from Moses to Jesus to Haile Selassie is of the same person. This notion connects the Israelites of the Bible to Africans and Rastas as the chosen people; Rastas and black people generally are the biblical Israelites reincarnated. However, notable Rasta elders have died after living exemplary lives following Rastafari codes of conduct. This has brought some reckoning of death among Rastafari. The first Rastafari funeral was for a Nyabinghi elder, Bongo Tawney, the chairperson of the Nyabinghi Order. It was conducted and presided over by Nyabinghi priests in Jamaica in April 2010. The Nyabinghi Order were previously the most opposed to funeral rituals, claiming “let the dead bury their dead”, implying Rastas should have nothing to do with death at all.

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