The Idea Behind India's 'Rice Bucket Challenge'

Needs are different and water is too scarce to dump over your head—so the pay-it-forward donation trend gets a twist in India. 

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Hang Dinh/Shutterstock.com

India has come up with a localized version of the chilling ice bucket challenge—the charity stunt that has gone viral on social media. The ALS ice bucket challenge involved participants posting videos of them having freezing water poured over them. The aim is to raise money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also called Lou Gerhig’s disease), a fatal neurodegenerative disease.

A Hyderabad-based journalist believes that it is a bit senseless to copy the stunt in India, a country where clean water is a luxury for many. Instead, she has come up with the rice bucket challenge, where people are encouraged to cook or donate a bowl or bag of rice to a poor person. They then take a picture of themselves and post it on Facebook and nominate friends to take up the cause.

“The idea of dunking oneself in icy cold water, shrieking in horror and then uploading the bizarre video felt preposterous. I wanted to just do something local, meaningful without wasting anything.” says 38-year old Manju Latha Kalanidhi. “So rice replaced water here.”

The idea has hit all the right notes on social media. Its Facebook page, created yesterday, has already amassed nearly 7,000 fans in less than 24 hours.

“Response has been staggering,” says Manju. “You can donate to any needy person—a poor kid, a vegetable seller, your maid, driver, watchman, orphanage etc.”

She began charity and rice bucket challenge last week by donating to a a daily labourer who sells idlis/dosas in a small stall run from his bicycle. Manju says she chose rice for donation because it rhymes with “ice” and is an integral part of South Indian diet. The challenge doesn’t produce spectacular videos like the ice bucket challenge, but if it catches on, many hungry stomachs will be fed.

Indians, both commoners and Bollywood royalty, have taken to the the original challenge of pouring ice cold water over one’s head. Here is a video of Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar taking the ice bucket challenge in chilly Cape Town:

(Top image via Hang Dinh/Shutterstock.com.)

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