Rastafarian: Happy New Year from Ethiopia

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 11: Hinduism and Islam won’t be the only two religions in the spotlight today—for the small group known as Rastafarians, today is Enkutatash. Enkutatash is actually the Ethiopian New Year. Rastafarians believe that the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is Jesus incarnate. (Wikipedia has details.) Because Selassie was from Ethiopia, Rastas regard Ethiopia as their spiritual homeland—and therefore celebrate its observances. (American Ethiopians introduced Californians to some of their traditions at a recent Enkutatash festival.)

Enkutatash commemorates the Queen of Sheba’s return from her visit to King Solomon, a time when tradition says that chiefs gave her plentiful jewels. The Ethiopian Orthodox Chuch claims to possess the Ark of the Covenant, passed down through this holy line. Selassie, too, was a member of this bloodline.

Enkutatash is a time for Ethiopians and Rastas to send greetings, visit one another, rejoice in the end of Ethiopia’s rainy season and delight in the fertility of a new year.

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