About 70,000 people afflicted with asthma and breathing problems thronged a stadium in southern India to swallow live sardine or murrel fish treated with a secret herbal concoction they believe will cure their breathing problems.
MSNBC reports there was a massive rush on June 8 at the venue were the Bathini Goud brothers distributed the home made herbal medicine. Police officers struggled to control the crowd that came to receive the preparation made from live sardine or murrel fish treated with a secret herbal formula that allegedly heals asthma and other respiratory problems.
AP reports that in spite of criticism by Indian medical experts, the Bathini Goud family has over the years dispensed to thousands of Indians the "Bathini Fish Medicine" they claim the family received from a Hindu saint 170 years ago.
The family gives away the "Bathini Fish Medicine" for free every year, but refuse to reveal the ingredients. According to the Gouds, they give the herbal asthma remedy away for free because the saint told them the potency of the medicine would be lost if commercialized.
According to AP, the secret herbal preparation is inserted into the mouth of a live fish, and the fish is slipped into the patient's throat. The fish is slippery, so patients usually have no problem swallowing it. The Goud brothers claim the "live fish moves, wagging its tail and fins, through the throat and negotiates the phlegm congestion, providing cure to asthma."
The family offers the medicine once a year on a day astrologers recommend. The day is called "Mrigishira Karthi," and normally coincides with the arrival of monsoon rains in the first or second week of June.
After believers have taken the "fish medicine," they are told not to eat fried foods and to maintain a strict 45-day dietary regimen of 25 different foods, including lamb, rice, white sugar, dried mango, spinach and clarified butter.
According to Deccan Herald, the family complained that the Andhra Pradesh Government, after delaying till the last minute, chose Kattedan village in Rajendranagar mandal of Rangareddy district as venue for the annual fish medicine distribution, instead of the Exhibition Grounds of Nampally. Bathini Harinath Goud said the government’s action seemed like harassment. He said: “I have applied for permission for the exhibition grounds months ago. Surprisingly my application was denied saying that the grounds are booked by someone else. So we decided on Kattedan."
The Deccan Herald reports that Goud also complained that the government favors asthma medicines offered by pharmaceutical companies instead of the "tried and tested medicine administered by his family for ages."
AP reports that Hyderabad police say that one man died of a heart attack and several others sought medical attention for breathing difficulties after they had waited for hours for the herbal medicine. The police say stadium officials were unprepared for the massive crowd that came to the stadium.
According to the Goud family, in 1845, a holy man (Hindu saint) gave their late great grandfather the secret formula of miraculous herbs contained in the "Bathini Fish Medicine." The formula was passed to Shiva Ram Goud, who later passed it on to Shanker Goud, who passed it down to his five sons: Harinath Goud, Sri Vishwanath Goud, Uma Maheshwar Goud, Somalingam Goud and Shivram Goud.