Asthma patients from south India queue up for annual distribution of free ‘medicine’
Hyderabad: Thousands of asthma patients on Friday took ‘fish prasadam‘ (offering), which has been distributed by a family here for more than 170 years.
The patients from Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and some other states queued up at Exhibition Grounds to take ‘fish prasadam’ as the medicine began to be called a decade ago after rationalists challenged its efficacy.
Members of Bathini Goud family started administering the ‘wonder drug’ at 9am to mark ‘Mrigasira Karti’, which heralds the onset of monsoon.
🇮🇳 ‘Fish medicine’ is administered to patients in Hyderabad. The medicine — which is offered as a cure for asthma — is placed in a live murrel fish which is then slipped into the mouth of the patient
📸 @noahseelam for @AFPphoto pic.twitter.com/eJlft1kjhl— AFP news agency (@AFP) June 8, 2018
Like in the past, the Telangana government made elaborate arrangements for the annual event. Minister for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries T. Srinivas Yadav along with Telangana Legislative Council Chairman Swamy Goud inaugurated the distribution of the ‘fish prasadam‘.
Despite the controversies which hit its popularity over last few years, people continue to throng the venue in the hope of finding some relief to their nagging respiratory problems. However, the numbers have dwindled over the years.
They gulped down a live ‘murrel’ fish with a yellow herbal paste in its mouth, which is believed to provide the much-needed relief, if taken for three consecutive years. For vegetarians, the family gives the medicine with jaggery.
Bathini Harinath Goud said their family members were giving the ‘medicine’ at 40 counters. The process will continue till 9 a.m. on Saturday.
The Fisheries Department has supplied 130,000 fingerlings for sale at its counters at the venue. However, the actual number of patients taking it could be less than 100,000.
Police, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, Hyderabad Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Electricity, Transport and other departments made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the event.
Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) is operating over 130 special buses from airport, railway and bus stations to ferry asthma patients to the venue.
Various departments are providing water, sanitation and other basic amenities to the patients. Voluntary organisations have also chipped in by distributing free food and water packets.
The ‘fish medicine’ lost its popularity in recent years after some groups, working to inculcate scientific temper among people, termed it as a fraud. They also approached a lower court, claiming that since the herbal paste contains heavy metals, it can cause serious health problems.
But the Goud family claims that the tests in laboratories conducted as per court orders revealed that the herbal paste is safe.
The Goud family has been distributing the ‘fish medicine’ free of cost for the last 174 years. It claims that the secret formula for the herbal medicine was given to their ancestors in 1845 by a saint after taking an oath from him that it would be administered free of cost.