Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease of the breathing track of human beings. The intense air pollution, specifically in the metro cities, has resulted in rising cases of people prone to asthmatic attacks. It is sometimes hereditary too, inherited from the genes of a family member, suffering from lung congestion or other respiratory ailments.
Accumulation of mucus and swelling of the airways are the main reasons for asthma. The symptoms include wheezing, cough, lung congestion and difficulty in breathing. It mostly occurs from childhood but may happen in later ages too. Numerous treatments are in place for curing asthma including steroids, inhalers, and nebulizers. Patients suffering from asthma often need to be admitted to hospitals due to its severity and intense effect on the lungs.
Fish Prasadam – The “Miracle” Treatment
The Bathini Goud family, residing at Hyderabad in the state of Andhra Pradesh, has discovered a unique and bizarre treatment called “Fish Prasadam”, a unique and distinct method to treat asthma, bronchitis and other related respiratory diseases. They are offering this cure for the last 174 years free of cost to thousands of people across India.
The distinct part of the treatment is that there is no tablet or liquid used but a live sardine or murrel fish, about 3 cm in length, is used for the treatment. The fish is stuffed with a yellow-coloured herbal medicinal paste and then administered directly inside the mouth of the asthma patients. The patients are expected to swallow the live fish as part of the treatment. For the next 30 minutes, the patients are advised not to drink water. A strict diet, prescribed by the members of the Goud family, needs to be followed for the next 45 days by the patients post the therapy.
Murrel, also known as snakehead, was declared as the state fish of Telangana in 2016. The common breeding grounds of the fish are ponds, lakes, and rivers. The fish, along with the herbs, pass through the airways and reliefs the blockage and lung congestion. As it traverses through the throat it clears the mucous, the accumulation of which causes irritation and breathlessness. As claimed by the Bathini Goud family, the treatment cures chronic respiratory diseases permanently. The medicine needs to be consumed for three successive years for the complete heal.
The Goud family claims that they have received the secret formula of the herbal medicine from a saint in 1845. One of their ancestors had learned the magical therapy with the promise of providing the treatment free of cost. The family had never revealed the trick behind the medicine, passed on from one generation to another within their members.
The facial expression and the reaction of the patients, whilst the fish is slipped into their throat by the members of the Goud family, is something to be observed. Some clasp their noses and close their eyes almost in tears while gulping the live fish wriggling in front of them. The kids, suffering from acute asthma, are often seen crying with their parents forcing them to drag their mouth open in order to force the fish inside. While some brave hearts remain calm and cool while swallowing the live fish.
Several controversies had been floating on the correctness and hygienic aspects of the therapy. Some doctors, medicinal specialists, and human rights groups have claimed that the method is unscientific and unhygienic and violates human rights. Certain medical experts argue that the treatment is purely a psychological effect on human brains. Some human rights groups had also registered a court case against the practice. They also complained that the herbal paste contained heavy metals that are harmful to the human body and may lead to health issues. The family claims that several tests were conducted at their laboratories as per court orders which have proved that the medicine can be safely administered in human bodies. The family has further denied all the negative claims against the treatment.
The Elaborate Arrangements
Every year during the onset of the monsoons in June, locally known as “Mrigasira Karti”, the Bathini Goud family arranges the Annual Traditional “Fish Prasadam” event in Hyderabad.
The Government of India makes special arrangements to aid the whole process. Additional trains are inducted to assist the people attending the event. Police patrols are provided in abundance to control the crowds. Separate queues are formed for senior citizens, physically challenged, women and children for proper management and seamless process.
Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, Hyderabad Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Electricity, Telangana State Road Transport Corporation and other departments ensure adequate support and assistance to the patients. Voluntary organisations are also found distributing free food and water packets to thousands of patients who arrive at the event. The fisheries department builds up stocks of murrel fish to meet the heavy demand.
A token is provided to each patient at the counters and is then summoned based on the serial number of the tokens.
In spite of several controversies about the authenticity of the Fish Prasadam treatment, many people still flock during the annual event to receive the treatment. Patients suffering from acute asthma and other related respiratory diseases arrive at the venue with the hope of getting cured by this miraculous treatment. Even vegetarians are also administered the medicine with jaggery instead of fish.