The tragic past of Jamaica haunts the Rastafari, especially the time of slavery which brought pain and ruin to the lives of many. During the dark period of history in which blacks were enslaved, African people were seen as sub-human. The traits associated with being black were demonized while the qualities of Caucasians were promoted as superior. The message of Christianity was manipulated in order to assuage the consciences of slave owners and validate the enslavement of a fellow human being. As such, violence against blacks was tolerated, and the lives of many African individuals were at the mercy of their white overlords. Under such horrid conditions, the African people found two main ways to respond to such injustice:submit or resist. Thus throughout the slave period, they rebelled against the overlords and courted death or independence through rebellion. There was hardly a year that went by in which there was not some form of rebellion against the bondage. Even after the slavery was abolished, the memory of it remained as a chain - a mental slavery.

Development of Black Liberation Theology in the context of Christian Theology..

It is this long standing desire for liberation and release and the regaining of their self worthiness that prompted the development of the black liberation movement  which happened within the context of the Christianity.  It was centered on the story of the liberation of the Jews from their slavery under Egypt led by Moses and a close parallel was created and expressed in the Rasta.  

The liberation theology therefore presented their story in terms of Moses and the return of the Jews to their homeland Canaan. Rasta identified Moses as Haile Selassie an the homeland as Ethiopia. 

Early beliefs

The basic tenets of early Rastafari, according to preacher Leonard Howell, included some very strong statements about racial issues, as might be expected in the religion of an oppressed people living in exile:

  1. Hatred of Whites
  2. Superiority of Blacks
    1. Blacks are God's chosen people
    2. Blacks will soon rule the world
  3. Revenge on Whites for their wickedness
    1. Whites will become the servants of Blacks
  1. The negation, persecution and humiliation of the government and legal bodies of Jamaica
  2. Repatriation: Haile Selassie will lead Blacks back to Africa
  3. Acknowledging Emperor Haile Selassie as God, and the ruler of Black people

Rastafarian beliefs

The most definitive list is found in the 1977 book The Rastafarians, The Dreadlocks of Jamaica by scholar Leonard Barrett who lists what he regards as the six basic principles of Rastafari. He developed the list by attending public meetings and through anthropological research into the movement.

  1. Haile Selassie I is the Living God
  2. The Black person is the reincarnation of ancient Israel, who, at the hand of the White person, has been in exile in Jamaica
  3. The White person is inferior to the Black person
  4. Jamaica is hell; Ethiopia is heaven
  5. The Invincible Emperor of Ethiopia is now arranging for expatriated persons of African origin to return to Ethiopia
  6. In the near future Blacks shall rule the world

From the 1930s until the mid 1970s most Rastafarians accepted the traditional Rastafari beliefs.

However things began to change as the living Jah of Rastas got himself in political struggle. A council of combined security forces known as the Derg staged a coup d’état on September 12, 1974 and overthrew  Emperor Haile Selassie I, arresting and imprisoning the Jah. The committee renamed itself the Provisional Military Administrative Council. Mengistu Haile Mariam,took control of the government,and established a Communist Government. Emperor Haile Selassie was declared dead in August 1975 after some surgery. According to Ethiopia custom, burial must take place within 24 hours after death. However his body was never presented to the community and Rastas interpreted it to mean that the Jah disappeared himself, ascended into heaven and was still alive somewhere and is waiting for his return to establish his new kingdom all over the world. 

In 1992 when a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), overthrew the Derg. After 17 years since his death, Haile Selassie’s remains were found under a concrete slab on the palace grounds. Some reports say his bones were found beneath a latrine. The remains of the emperor were buried in Bhata Church near the tomb of his great-uncle Menelik II after a befitting imperial funeral by the Ethiopian Orthodox church on November 5, 2000.


This required the Rastas to reinterpret the Jah status of their Jah Haile Selassie as a progressive revelation.  It was here the basic help of Indian Sadhus came in handy.

The key ideas in contemporary Rastafari are:

  • The humanity of God and the divinity of man
    • This refers to the importance of Haile Selassie who is perceived by Rastafarians as a living God. Likewise it emphasises the concept of God revealing himself to his followers through his humanity."God is man and man is God"
  • God is found within every man
    • Rastafarians believe that God makes himself known through humanity. According to Jagessar "there must be one man in whom he exists most eminently and completely, and that is the supreme man, Rastafari, Selassie I."
  • God in history
    • It is very important to see all historical facts in the context of God's judgement and workings.
  • Salvation on earth
    • Salvation for Rastafarians is an earthly idea, rather than heavenly.
  • The supremacy of life
    • Human nature is very important to Rastafarians and they should preserve and protect it.
  • Respect for nature
    • This idea refers to the importance and respect Rastafarians have for animals and the environment, as mirrored in their food laws.
  • The power of speech
    • Speech is very important to Rastafarians, as it enables the presence and power of God to be felt.
  • Evil is corporate
    • Sin is both personal and corporate. This means organisations such as the International Monetary Fund are responsible for Jamaica's fiscal situation, and that oppression is in part influenced by them.
  • Judgement is near
    • This corresponds to the nearness of judgement for Rastafarians when they will be given greater recognition.
  • The priesthood of Rastafarians
    • Rastafarians are the chosen people of God and are on earth to promote his power and peacefulness.

(Joseph Owens The Rastafarians of Jamaica, 1973 pp. 167-70 and Jagessar, JPIC and Rastafarians, 1991 pp. 15-17.)

To modern Rastafari the most important doctrine was belief in the divinity of Haile Selassie I. Although some Rastafarians still regard Haile Selassie as the black messiah, many modern adherents do not see this as central to their faith.

Haile Selassie's death in 1975 was described by his followers as his 'disappearance', since they refused to believe he has passed away. Following his death and the increased acceptance of Jamaican culture in society many Rastafarian beliefs have been modified.

According to Nathaniel Samuel Murrell:

...brethren have reinterpreted the doctrine of repatriation as voluntary migration to Africa, returning to Africa culturally and symbolically, or rejecting Western values and preserving African roots and black pride.

Nathaniel Samuel Murrell in 'Chanting Down Babylon', 1998, page 6.

The previous belief that white people are evil has diminished and is no longer central to Rastafarian belief systems.

The idea of Babylon has also developed to represent all oppressive organizations and countries in the world.

.Chapter xvi

.Rastafari History


The Rastafari movement developed out of the legacy of the Atlantic slave trade, in which over ten million Africans were enslaved and transported from Africa to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Here, they were sold to European planters and forced to work on the plantations. Around a third of these transported Africans were relocated in the Caribbean, with under 700,000 being settled in Jamaica. On the island, the enslaved Africans were divided into a stratified system, with field workers on the lowest rung and house servants above them. In 1834, slavery in Jamaica was abolished after the British government passed the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. Racial prejudice nevertheless remained prevalent across Jamaican society, with the overwhelming majority of Jamaica's legislative council remaining white throughout the nineteenth century, and those of African descent being treated as second-class citizens. With slavery abolished, formerly enslaved Africans and Afro-Jamaicans became free peasants. In the three decades after emancipation, the Free Village system proliferated across Jamaica as non-conformist missionaries, particularly Baptist, purchased land from the large owners and sold

1834  Abolition of Slavery in the British Caribbean, August 1st
1848 - Birth of Prophet Alexander Bedward of Kingston Jamaica

1884 – 1885 Berlin Conference /The Carving up of Africa

1887- August 17th Birth of Marcus Mosiah Garvey

1892- July 23rd Birth of Ras Tafari Makonnen

1894 Birth of Joseph Hibbert one of the first preachers of the Rastafari movement in Jamaica  
1895- First Italian-Ethiopian War

1898 - Birth of Leonard P. Howell, “the first Rasta”


Birth of Prince Emmanuel Charles Edwards

Founded the Bobo Shanti order in Jamaica in 1958 (prior to Jamaica's independence in 1962).[1] The Bobo Shanti advocate repatriation of all black people to Africa, and that black people should be reimbursed monetarily for slavery. The Bobo Shanti use Revelations 5 to justify Prince Emmanuel as the reincarnation of Christ, the reincarnate Black Christ in a priestly state. By most members of the Bobo Shanti, he was called "Prince Emmanuel Charles Edwards, without Mother or Father, a Priest of Melchezidek, the Black Christ in the Flesh." Prince Emmanuel is called "Dada" by his followers, who see him as part of a holy Trinity, in which Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is King/God (Jah), Marcus Garvey is prophet, and Emmanuel is high priest after the priesthood order of Melchizedek.

1920s Marcus Mosiah Garvey and UNIA

Marcus Garvey deported to Jamaica

The Royal Parchment Scroll of Black Supremacy – Fitz Ballentine Petersburg

Formation of People’s Political Party (PPP)

Birth of Elder Mortimer Kumi Planno
 was a renowned Rastafari elder, drummer, and considered one of the ideological founders of the back-to-Africa movement founded in the 1910s by Marcus Garvey. He is best known as the Rasta teacher and friend of Bob Marley,

1927-Marcus Garvey deported from the USA to Jamaica
1928 - Publishing of Holy Pliby by J. Athlyl Rogers


Ethiopian Italian War

1933  Leonard Howell, the first person to preach the Divinity of Haile Selassie, is arrested for sedition in Jamaica, January 1st

Publishing of the Promised Key by Leonard Howell

1934 – Leonard P. Howell charged with sedition - given a two year prison term for sedition

1935  The Italians under Mussolini invade Ethiopia, October 3rd

1936  Emperor Haile Selassie I leaves Ethiopia on May 2nd for a 5-year exile in Britain. He makes his historic address to the League of Nations on June 30th

1937  Dr Malaku Bayen founds the Ethiopian World Federation (EWF) in New York City, August 25th

1937  The first EWF local in Jamaica, is established, with LFC Mantle as President and Paul Erlington as Vice President

1939  Leonard Howell establishes the Ethiopian Salvation Society1938 – Formation of the Ethiopian World Federation (EWF).
The Ethiopian World Federation (EWF) was established in the United States in 1937. Its aims were to mobilize support for the Ethiopians during the Italian invasion of 1935-41,[1] and to embody the unity of Ethiopians (Black people) home and abroad.[2] Sections were established in other parts of the Americas. Later, the EWF was given charge of an area of land in Ethiopia for housing returning emigrants.

EWF Foundation Members- Archibald Dunkley, Robert Hinds, Joseph Hibbert

1940  Leonard Howell establishes Pinnacle, a Rastafari settlement based on communal principles

Leonard Howell used his skills as an organizer for the Ethiopian Salvation Society by using his money to provide for the poor in the society

1941  Joseph Nathaniel Hibbert establishes a branch of the Ethiopian Mystic Mason, loosely affiliated to the Ethiopian Coptic Church

1941  Jamaican authorities raid Pinnacle and arrest Howell, the first in a series of colonial attacks on Howell’s Rastafari community, July 25th

1941  Emperor Haile Selassie I re-enters Ethiopia on May 5th after the defeat of the Italians

1943 Leonard Howell was released from prison and returned to Pinnacle

1947  Ras Boanerges, Bredda Arthur, Philip Panhandle, Kurukong, and others, found the Youth Black Faith in Trench town, West Kingston


1953 The first pictures of the dreadlocks that appeared in the local press became a lasting sign of black pride in Jamaica, a symbol which was to gain international significance

1954/5/6 Prince Edward Emmanuel, Ras Boanerges, and others, hold annual conventions in Back-o-Wall, West Kingston

1954  The Jamaican State raids Pinnacle on May 22nd, finally destroying the community

1955  Emperor Haile Selassie I announce the Shashamane Land Grant of 500 acres administered by the EWF

Mamie Richardson visits Jamaica to publicise the EWF Land Grant, and to promote the organisation amongst Jamaicans and Rastafari

1958  Prince Emmanuel Edwards and other Nyahbinghi Rastafari convene the first 21 day groundation (March 1st to March 21st ) in Back O Wall, a Kingston shanty town and a Rastafari strong hold. It was estimated that 3000 brethren attended. The event leads to the formal founding of the Ethiopian African International Congress, Order of Nyah binghi

1959  Police and Rastafari clash in the so-called Coronation Market Riot on May 7th, which leads to Police destruction of the Rastafari community in Back-o-Wall, Kingston

1959 Rev Claudius Henry of the African Reform Church returned to Jamaica after a visit to Ethiopia

Thousands of people mistakenly believed that the cards distributed  to them by Rev Claudius Henry, “Repairer of the Breach “ would gain them passage on ships leaving for Africa on October 5th .Many sold their possessions, but no ship came.

Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya

Claudius Henry charged for sedition


1960 Trial of Rev. Claudius Henry 1st October

Rev. Claudius Henry and 15 associated found guilty on treason –felony charges and sent to prison for 10 years

1960 Emperor Haile Selassie returned from Brazil in triumph to Ethiopia in  December after a failed coup

1960 Primer, Norman Manley schedule a meeting with leaders of the Rastafari movement to discuss migration of Jamaicans back to Africa

1960 Bongo Watto Camp off 19 Street Trench Town raided by police1960- UWI Mission to Africa

Destruction of DUNG HILL / Back O Wall

1961  The government sends a mission to Africa which includes 3 Rastafari: Mortimo Planno, Douglas Mack and Samuel Clayton, this was for the purpose of studying feasibility of migration of Jamaicans to Africa.

1961 Three Rastafari members on the back to Africa mission had a private interview with Emperor Haile Selassie during the mission stay in Ethiopia

1961 Mission to Africa .A supplement publication by the Daily Gleaner July 31

1962 May. Letter to the Editor from Rastafari from Foreshore Road, Back O Wall Moonlight City, Trench Town and Tower Hill calling on the Primer Alexander Bustamante to remember the question of Repatriation

1962  Police raid and dismantle the Wareika Hill Camp of the I-ngelic House, a group of italist Nyahbinghi Rastafari

1963  On April 11th, in Coral Gardens, Montego Bay, killings blamed on Rastafari result in a nation-wide persecution of the movement

1963 - Coral Gardens Massacre

His Imperial Majesty addresses the United Nations – Speech made into international hit song (WAR) performed by Bob Marley.

1963- Assassination of Medgar Evers in USA

1965-A three –man delegation of the Rastafari movement compromising of Brother Douglas Mack, Philmore Alvaranga and  Sam Clayton went on a fifteen month- tour USA Kenya Ethiopia and Ghana ,seeking help for repatriation of Rastafari from Jamaica to Africa, a petition of 10,000 Rastafari was presented to Haile Selassie.

1965 - Assassinations of Malcolm X in USA

1966 - VISIT of H.I.M. Haile Selassie to JAHMEKYA

Emperor Haile Selassie I makes a historic visit to the Caribbean, including Jamaica April 21st – 24th. The Emperor honours Rastafari, awarding gold medals to 13 leading brethren

1967  Emperor Haile Selassie I meets Rev. Winston Evans, Director of the EWF, Inc. in Chicago, Feb 13th and 14th. On behalf of his organisation Rev. Evans receives a grant reported to be 10,000 acres

 The Emperor honours Rastafari, awarding gold medals to 13 leading brethren

1967  Emperor Haile Selassie I meets Rev. Winston Evans, Director of the EWF, Inc. in Chicago, Feb 13th and 14th. On behalf of his organisation Rev. Evans receives a grant reported to be 10,000 acres

1968 The Jamaica Council of Human Rights strongly protested against the manner and circumstances of the raids the police and military on Rev Claudius Henry and followers.

1968  Vernon Carrington, also known as Prophet Gad, founds the 12 Tribes of Israel in Kingston, Jamaica. The 12 Tribes becomes one of the most popular Rastafari organs with an extensive international following          

1968  Walter Rodney, a Black nationalist active amongst the Rastafari, is banned from Jamaica, October 15th, triggering widespread student protests

1969  Ras Solomon Wolfe leaves Jamaica for Ethiopia, where he receives the EWF administrative responsibility for the Shashemane Land Grant from His Imperial Majesty

1968- Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in USA

Dr. Walter Rodney expelled from Jamaica; Riotous.

1970- Emperor Haile Selassie sends the Archbishop Laike Mandefro to Jamaica as emissary of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC).

Establishment of RastafarI Mansions and Charters

Nyahbinghi Ethiopian Orthodox Church Twelve Tribes EABIC/BoboShantI

1971 July. Prince Emmanuel Edwards together with 18 other members seek Government Ministry aid in proposed emigration to Ethiopia
1972- Michael Manley PNP comes to power with ‘Rod of Correction’

1973  Release of The Harder They Come, a full-length Jamaican motion picture, featuring prominent Rastafari

1974  Council of Nyahbinghi Elders formally establish the Theocratic Government of His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I

1974 - 75- Ethiopian Monarchy toppled; Mengistu comes to power

Bob Marley respond with release of hit song ‘JAH LIVE’

1975  Ras Boanerges carries the Nyahbinghi Order to Barbados in April

1975  Emperor Haile Selassie I died August 27th

1976- General Elections; Manley declares ‘Democratic Socialism’

1976  Prime Minister Michael Manley meets with a Council of Nyahbinghi Elders (Judah Coptic Issemble) at 11 Welcome Ave, Waterhouse, Kingston

1976 The Ethiopian African National Congress wrote to the Security General of the Untied Nation on question of the Repatriation of black people to Africa

1976  Publication of Dread, The Rastafari of Jamaica, by Joseph Owens, a popular text on Rastafari theology and culture, largely in the words of Rastafari

1977 June 26, Prime Minister Michael Manley admitted that there were police and employment discrimination against members of the Rastafari movement in Jamaica

1978  Jahugliman, a Rastafari vernacular publication, is launched in Jamaica. It later moves to the UK, under the title of Jahug

1978- Bob Marley shot; Smile Jamaica ONE LOVE Peace Concert

1979 Dominican Rasta seek recognition on November 3rd 

1979 Jamaica daily News reported on May 23 1979 that Pinnacle was robbed by armed bandits

1980  Rastafari celebrates the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Haile Selassie I’s Coronation. Rastafari Movement Association becomes International Rastafari Theocratic Assembly

1980  Bob Marley performs at the Independence Day celebrations in Zimbabwe, April 18th

1980  Rastafari Speaks, a Rastafari-produced newspaper, is launched in Trinidad as a vehicle for news throughout the Rastafari community

1980- CIVIL WAR in Jamaica; - Fiftieth Anniversary of the “Crowning” of Ras TafarI

1981 Patriarch LP Howell died in February

1981 The reggae master the Honourable Robert Nesta Marley, dies in USA

1982 A plea for Rastafari to be recognized as a valid religion and for Rastafari to be allowed full religious rights has being made by the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales in February.

1982  First International Rastafari Conference held in Toronto, Canada, July 23rd -25th

1983  Second International Rastafari Theocratic Assembly, July 18th – July 25th “RITA”

1984  Voice of Thunder: Dialogue with Nyahbinghi Elders, Toronto, September 23rd –October 21st. First official Nyhahbinghi Elders mission outside the Caribbean

1985  Universal Rastafari Improvement Association of Tanzania sends a mission to Jamaica, December 29th 1985 to January 28th 1986

1986  Rastafari Focus, Commonwealth Institute, London, July 14th - July 27th. First International Rastafari Conference in the UK

1986 November .Rasta keeps his locks, new York’s highest court rules

1987  Visit of Prince Dawit, grandson of His Imperial Majesty to Jamaica and the USA, connecting with the House of Nyahbinghi and other Rastafari communities

1987  Nyahbinghi Project, a forum for Rastafari in Britain, based at the Yaa Asantewaa Arts Centre, is launched

1987- Assassination of Peter Tosh and Free I in Jamaica

1987  Centenary of Marcus Garvey’s birth, August 17th, is celebrated in Jamaica with month-long island-wide Nyahbinghi celebrations attracting international visitors

1988  The Rainbow Circle Throne Room of Jah Rastafari mission departs Jamaica May 23rd. The House of Nyahbinghi sends a 17-member delegation of Elders to New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington DC, May-August

1990.Rasta can keep their locks. USA court in Washington rule November 7th

1990 - Formation of the Rastafari Centralisation Organisation

1990  3rd trod of The Rainbow Circle Throne Room of Jah Rastafari. Elders participate in a public programme at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, and later release an album Rastafari Elders, a compilation of Nyahbinghi testimony and chants

1992  Centenary Trod to Ethiopia to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Emperor Haile Selassie I, June 28th – August 1992.  The first International Assembly of Rastafari in Ethiopia, co-ordinated by the Centenary Committee for Rastafari based in London

1993  The first Annual Rastafari-Ethiopian cultural celebration, Philadelphia, organised by Ras Al and Sister Kaya Selassie, November 13th

1994  First International Gathering of Rastafari, sponsored by ICOMRAS (International Communicators of Rastafari) in honour of African Liberation Day and the Organisation of African Unity, Miami, May 22nd – May 26th

1995  Second International Gathering of Rastafari, sponsored by International Rastafari Gathering Committee (ex-ICOMRAS), Toronto, July 15th – July 24th

1996 Rastafari gather in East King House Road on the100 Anniversary of the Hon Marcus Garvey and voiced demands for Emancipation Day August 1st to be reinstated as a public holiday

1996  International Nyahbinghi Mission to South Africa led by Ras Boanerges, October to November

1997  Ethiopian Crown Prince Emmias Sahle-Selassie and Bekere Fikre Selassie visit Jamaica August 16th-August 23rd
1997 – Visit of Delegation to Sheshemanie to sign Land Grant

1997  First International Rastafari gathering in Guyana

1998  First International Eastern Caribbean Conference on Rastafari, in Barbados, August 17 to August 27th. Conference resolution to observe the birthday of Leonard Howell (June 16th) as a day of Rastafari celebration. Passing of Sam Brown 27th August, Barbados

1998  Emancipation 150: Trodding to Mt Zion, a Caribbean Rastafari conference sponsored by Rastafari Livity Educational Forum, University of the Virgin Islands, St Thomas, V.I. November 25th –29th, December 5th-6th

1998  Rastafari delegation from South Africa visits Nyahbinghi in Britain

1999  Official opening of the Nyahbinghi Tabernacle in Shashamane, Ethiopia, and occasion of 2 international gatherings, July 22nd to August 5th, and November 1st to 14th

1999  From the Cross to the Throne. Rastafari Conference convened by Mortmo Planno at the University of the West Indies August 16th -17th

2000 Hosting of Rastafari Global Conference – U.W.I Jamaica

2009 – Formation of the Rastafari Millennium Council

2014 – Granting of Act to form the Church of Haile Selassie I in Jamaica

De-criminal-ization of GanJah in Jamaica

2000  Rita Marley organises massive Reggae concert in Ethiopia

2000  Jamaican Rastafari march on Kingston on Adwa Victory day, demonstrating for legalisation of the Sacred Herb (3rd March)

2001  World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa

2002  Caribbean Rastafari Organisation (CRO) holds 8th Conference in St Martin and Anguilla May 23rd –29th

2003 South African President Thabo Mbeki was presented the keys to the city of Kingston Jamaica

2003 Rastafari Global reasoning on the University of the West Indies Campus (UWI) Mona

2006  Nyahbinghi National Council (NNC) established in UK

2006 March .The troding home of Rastafari Patriarch Mortimo St George Planno, he was 76 years old

2007  Ethiopian Millennium Celebrations worldwide

2008  International Rastafari Conference, Jamaica (July) Fulfilling the Creed

2009 September 17TH .The Millennium Council continued agitation for Rastafari want to control their heritage of Pinnacle in St Catherine

2010 Conference on Rastafari studies lunched on the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona on August 19

2010 Sir Roy Augier on August 19th suggested to a large Rastafari gathering on (UWI) Mona Campus to accept Jamaica as their home

2014-Rastafari makes case for reoccupation of Pinnacle in February


 Many Afro-Jamaicans joined Christian churches during the Great Revival of 1860–61. They brought with them many inherited African beliefs and rituals, which syncretized with Christianity in various ways and to varying degrees.  Some of the new religions that emerged, such as Pukkumina, remained heavily based on traditional African religion, while others, like Revival Zion, were more Christian.  The majority of these groups practiced spiritual healing and incorporated drumming and chanting, counselling, and spirit possession into their structures. Increasing numbers of Pentecostal missionaries from the United States arrived in Jamaica during the early twentieth century, reaching a climax in the 1920s.  They provided a way for black Jamaicans—who continued to live with the social memory of enslavement and who were denied any substantial participation in Jamaica's political institutions—to express their hopes, fears, and aspirations. In many countries Rasta is considered as a religion with all the privileges thereto.