“Practices of Indian Sadhus are seen in the Rasta way of life”
Interview with Ms Linda Ainouche, Documentary Filmmaker
You have studied Jainism. Is there a link between Jainism and Rastafari culture as well?
I would like to say that there is not direct connections between Jainism and Rastafari other than Jainism and Hinduism are stemmed from Vedic and Brahmanic philosophy, and Hinduism is one of the major spiritual influences to Rastafari. Therefore, the link between Jainism and Rastafari is indirectly based on the concept of Nature and even more in this central Jain doctrine of ahimsa.
Very little is documented on Indian indentureship in Jamaica that followed the abolition of slavery. Do you have any research material available on that?
Yes, Dreadlocks Story! And the amazing work by the Indian couple of pioneers researchers Professors Ajai and Laxmi Mansingh as well as some other independent researchers.
You seem to have come across similarities between the experiences of Africans in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and Indian indentured workers that were forced into servitude by the British colonial system. Can you tell us about some of these?
African emancipation in Jamaica happened in 1838 and Indian arrived in Jamaica from 1845. When Indians were in Jamaica, known as “indentured workers”, they essentially performed the same work that ex-African slaves were once forced to do, even if they did nominally have more freedom. So, in terms of work, the experiences were very similar, and in terms of bad treatments and oppressions also. While it was made to seem like “indentured servitude” was voluntary labor, the reality is that it was enslavement under a different name.
As a movement is Rastafari prevalent mainly in Jamaica, or has a presence in other islands of the Caribbean as well?
Today, Rastafari is not confined to Jamaica but found throughout the Caribbean and Diasporas as well everywhere in the world, even in unexpected places such as Fiji, Iceland, Botswana, Malawi, Nicaragua, Japan. About dreadlocks, they reveal to be secondary to the vital role they are playing to mirror the state of mind of the minority Rasta communities influenced by Hinduism all over the world.