178-yr-old practice of distributing ‘fish prasadam’ in Hyderabad to be on June 8-9

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Hyderabad, May 20 (IANS) Bathini family will distribute ‘fish prasadam’ to people suffering from asthma and other respiratory ailments here on June 8-9. The family announced on Monday that the annual event will begin at 11 a.m. on June 8 at Exhibitions Grounds, Nampally, and will continue till 11 a.m. on June 9.

Bathini Vishwanatham Goud, president, Bathini Mrigasira Trust, told media persons that they are making all arrangements for the distribution of fish prasadam.

Asthma patients from various parts of Telugu states and other places in the country take this prasadam in June every year in the hope of finding relief from respiratory problems.

The family requested concerned government departments to make arrangements like every year for the smooth conduct of the event.

This will be the first event after the death of the head of the family, Bathini Harinath Goud. He passed away at the age of 84 in June last year, following prolonged illness.

He was the last of the fourth-generation Gouds distributing free fish medicine to asthma patients from across the country.

Harinath Goud was instrumental in organising the event for the last three decades after the demise of his elder brothers.

The Bathini Goud family claims to have been distributing this medicine free of cost for the last 178 years. The secret formula for the herbal medicine was given to their ancestor in 1845 by a saint after he took an oath that it would be administered free of cost.

Members of the Bathini Goud family administer the ‘wonder drug’ on ‘Mrigasira Karti’, (during the first week of June) which heralds the onset of the monsoon.

A yellow colour herbal paste prepared by the family is placed in the mouth of a live ‘murrel’ fingerling, which is then slipped through the throat of the patient. It is believed to provide much-needed relief if taken for three consecutive years. For vegetarians, the family gives medicine with jaggery.

Asthma patients from various parts of the country flock to Hyderabad to take this treatment. However, the medicine lost its popularity during the last 15 years due to controversies pertaining to the contents of herbal paste.

Some groups working to inculcate scientific temper among people, termed the fish medicine a fraud. They also approached the court, claiming that since the herbal paste contains heavy metals, it can cause serious health problems.

However, Goud family claims that the tests in laboratories conducted as per court orders revealed that the herbal paste is safe.

After the challenge by the rationalists, the family started calling it ‘fish prasadam’.

Despite the controversies, people continue to throng the venue every year in hope of finding some relief to their nagging respiratory problems. However, the numbers have dwindled over the years.