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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Rastafarian Wave in Bhutan

The "Rastafari Movement" is some kind of religious movement which was developed in Jamaica in the 1930s. In the 1990s, it was believed to have more than one million Rastafaris worldwide. The Rastafarian way of life encompasses the "spiritual" use of Cannabis and the rejection of the degenerate society of materialism, oppression and sensual pleasures. The members of the Rastafarian way of life are known as Rastas or Rastafari. Bob Marley, the famous Jamaican Reggae singer was a hardcore Rastafari. 
Although I had heard about it before, it was not until I came across a blog-post covered by the notable blogger PaSsu titled "Rastafari in Primary School", that I became aware of its existence in Bhutan. This tri-color (Green~Yellow~Red) flag can be seen anywhere, everywhere thesedays. But how did this wave travel all the way from Jamaica to hit Bhutan? I can think of only three possible reasons:
  1. Idolizing Bob Marley by the younger generation
  2. Widespread use of Marijuana/Cannabis
  3. The attractive tricolor combination.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book "The Tipping Point" has mentioned about how the famous Hush Puppies brand of shoes took the "Tipping Point" in late 1994 when it was at the brink of being phased out. A couple of kids simply wore these shoes when they went out in the streets of New York, and in so doing, exposed other people to their fashion sense. This is how the brand got spread to the rest of the world. The same may be the case with the Rastafari movement - Being caught up in the fashion wave. 

The tri-color can be seen mostly on the trucks, tippers, dumpers and vans constantly plying on the road. It is quite disturbing to see growing number of vehicles being adorned in this tri-color banners. Has the RSTA gone RaSTA too? This (in)famous pattern has also made its place on the caps, beanies, shirts, scarfs, wrist bands and the likes. I once saw a monk proudly moving around wearing this tri-color beanie - A complete contradiction in the ideology. The more you see this tri-color, the more observant you become. A couple of days back, I was driving from Phuntsholing to Thimphu. I must have seen atleast a dozen of these tricolor exhibits. There was this family in one of the roadside restaurant, who I assume, had come back from a pilgrimage to India. I was shell-shocked to see all of them wearing sungkeys in this tri-color. Who ever made it, I sincerely hope it was a mere coincidence on the choice of colors and in no way meant to propagate the Rastafari ideology. Having been boggled by this sight, I resumed my journey only to see several reflective stickers in this tri-color combo pasted on the crash-barriers somewhere near Chapcha top. 

The following are some of the Rasta apparels :
  



What ever may be the reason, I hope this tri-colors found in Bhutan are only a symbolic representation driven by the fashion wave, and in no way meant to commit towards being Rastafari or to propagate its ideology. 
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