08/06/2017 4:40 PM IST | Updated 08/06/2017 4:43 PM IST

Why Are Thousands Of People Traveling All The Way To Hyderabad To Swallow A Live Fish?

A miracle cure for asthma?

Krishnendu Halder / Reuters
A man prepares to swallow a live fish that has been dipped in homemade medicine as people crowd for their turn in a camp in Hyderabad.

Hyderabad is a crowded city right now. Thousands of people have gathered here from across India and overseas, and have been waiting outside the Nampally Exhibition Grounds since last evening. They want the miraculous medicine, the 'fish prasadam', that is believed to cure asthma.

The annual 'fish medicine' distribution began at 8:30 AM this morning.

For years now, the Bathini Goud family in Hyderabad has been hosting this peculiar treatment camp where they provide 'fish prasadam', apparently as a cure for a host of diseases, for free. They have been been distributing this miraculous fish medicine since 1845. This year, the Bathini Mrigasira Karthi Fish Prasadam trust is ready with 200 kilograms of fish made to satisfy four lakh prasadam takers.

Mayank Sharma, who is 32 years old and has come all the way from Bihar, has been waiting outside the grounds since 11 pm last night. "We have heard a lot about this prasadam. That's why we are here. We hope it will work for us," he told the Newsminute.

The event takes place on the night of 'Mrigasira Karti' every year, which falls in June and heralds the onset of the monsoons.

What is the fish prasadam?

Krishnendu Halder / Reuters
A member of Bathini Goud brothers holds a live fish that has been dipped in homemade medicine at a camp in Hyderabad.
Krishnendu Halder / Reuters
A member of Bathini Goud Brothers shows live fish.

The prasadam is made using a specific murrel fish. A yellow paste along with the live fish is stuffed into the mouth of the patient who then swallows it. The Bathini Goud family claims that the small living fish wiggles its way through the human throat, pushing the phlegm and making it easier for people to breathe. The secret recipe of the herbal dip used for the medicine is said to have been transferred to the Goud family by a Hindu saint in 1845.

Not everyone appreciates it

Over the last couple of years, many rationalists and scientists have opposed the massive event. They have come down heavily on the family for administering an unscientific and unproven 'cure' to people. Jana Vignana Vedika, an organisation that aims to create awareness among people about the importance of science in daily life, has moved the Hyderabad High Court and obtained an order that the family cannot market the 'cure' as a medicine. Therefore, it is called prasadam.

NOAH SEELAM via Getty Images

When asked about the 'cure' being unproven, Harinath Goud, a member of the family said, "People have taken our samples to labs in Japan, Germany and got them tested. The concept is that when live fish moves, wagging it tail and fins through the throat, it clears all congestion. Thus, providing cure to asthma."

AFP/Getty Images
Visitors rest prior to receiving fish medicine from members of the Bathini Goud family.

The annual event has received the support of successive state governments. This year too, the Telangana government has made arrangements in and around the venue and deployed several thousand policemen. Traffic restrictions have been placed in the area and parking facilities around the exhibition grounds have been converted into waiting sheds for prasadam seekers.

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