The administration of the wonder fish medicine for asthma patients began here Thursday amid a raging controversy over its efficacy .
Hundreds of people were seen standing in queues for their turn to take fish medicine, renamed as fish 'prasadam' or holy offering by Bathini Goud family to avoid any controversy.
The administration of the medicine, touted as a wonder cure for asthma, began at 3.42 p.m., the time fixed by astrologers, after family members offered special 'puja'. The process will continue for 24 hours.
For the past 160 years, the Goud family has been distributing the medicine free of cost on the Mrigasira Karti of the Hindu calendar - or the onset of monsoon.
A yellow herbal paste, the ingredients of which has remained a family secret, is first put into a live three centimetre-long 'murrel' fingerling and it is then slipped through the throat of the patient. Dozens of family members of Goud have mastered the art of administering the drug.
If taken for three successive years, the medicine is believed to cure asthma.
Despite demands from physicians to reveal the ingredients of the herbal paste and rationalists' allegations of fraud, the Bathini family has refused to name the contents, saying the medicine would lose its efficacy.
The family claims that in 1845 a holy man passed on the formula for the miracle medicine to their great-great-grandfather Veranna Goud, a toddy tapper, on the promise that he would distribute it free of cost.
The turnout at the annual event was affected in the past couple of years due to an intense campaign by rationalists against the 'unscientific' treatment.
Despite an appeal by Jana Vignana Vedika, a group of rationalists, to the Andhra Pradesh government to stop patronising the event, various government departments have made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the event.
The fisheries department has made arrangements to supply 100,000 fish. The Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad, Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Road Transport Corporation and other departments have also made arrangements to provide all amenities to the patients.
The rationalists and doctors, opposing the fish medicine, have warned that the drug could result in more complications for the patients.
Last year, the Andhra Pradesh High Court, on a petition by Jana Vignana Vedika, refused to stay the administration of the medicine but ruled that the word 'therapy' be used instead of 'medicine'.
(Source: IANS News)