Rastafarian community celebrate Earth Festival

Reading Time: 2 minutes

South Africa’s biggest Rastafarian community, Judah Square, in Knysna, on Wednesday celebrated its annual Earth Festival.

The week-long celebration honours the birthday of the Rastafarian spiritual messiah, Haile Selassie I.

The colourful event highlights the traditions and roots of the Rastafari faith. Emperor Haile Selassie I is considered the Rasta’s God and King. This would have been his 127th birthday.

Knysna’s House of Judah hosts the largest celebration in the country. Believers come to Knysna from all across the country to pay tribute to their King.

Outside the tabernacle, a fire will burn for seven days. It represents the spirit of Moses whom Selassie is said to be a descendant of. Brother Zionite, who is a Priest, says the fire must burn undisturbed for seven days.

“The fire must be lit by the seven psalms, by the seven brethren. No garbage to be thrown into the fire, no food should be cooked or roasted on this fire; only brethren are permitted to warm themselves by the fire. And the fire must burn undisturbed for seven days. So basically in the fire we call the psalms because the fire is holy for the most of high.”

What initially started out as a protest 20 years ago has now grown into a national celebration. Earth day organiser, Brother Dawie, says that they have a very unique terminology.

“We have a very unique terminology. We don’t say birthday, we say Earth day; because the Earth day is your first day but we call it earth day. This is like a special day. It’s a very high platform for us. Back in the day, it started as a one day protest, but now it’s a joyous ten day celebration where we come to worship and praise.”

While the main focus of the festival is spiritual, the community has also opened up their doors to the public to learn more about them.