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8,000 in line for fish medicine

8,000 people in line for fish medicine

india Updated: Jun 09, 2006 03:02 IST
Ashok Das

Forget all that talk about there being something fishy about the famous fish medicine — the wonder drug for asthma and other bronchial disorders. Thursday witnessed mile-long queues at the Exhibition Grounds in Nampally, Hyderabad, as thousands waited for the Bathini Goud family to start handing over their age-old family secret.

Even naysayers, in the form of activists of the Jana Vignana Vedika (People’s Science Forum) — who discouraged the people by saying the medicine’s therapeutic value was yet to be scientifically proven — had no effect on the crowd.

Several members of the Bathini Goud family finally began administering the medicine at 3.45 p.m., an auspicious time fixed by astrologers to coincide with Mrigasira Karthi (onset of monsoon).

To handle the rush, things have been done a little differently at the venue this year. Two dozen counters have been set up to handle the rush over the next 24 hours. The Fisheries Department has arranged for the sale of murrel fingerlings at 22 counters. For the first time, organizers have introduced a token system. Tokens with a specific time-slot have been distributed to 8,000 people.

The fish medicine is a yellowish herbal paste that is put into a small murrel fish, which is then swallowed by the patient. For vegetarians, the paste is mixed with jaggery.

The medicine is to be taken successively for three years and a strict dosage and diet is to be followed for the disorder to be cured completely. Patients have to avoid 26 food items for 40 days for the drug to yield good results.

The Bathini Goud family has been dispensing the fish medicine free of cost for generations since 1845, when a local sage gave the secret formula for the herbal formulation to one of their ancestors. In recent years — as the popularity of the medicine has grown — physicians, rationalist and scientific organizations have been demanding that the family disclose the contents of the medicine.

But the Bathini Harinath Goud says that the medicine will lose its efficacy if the secret of its ingredients is revealed. Asserting that the faith of the people is its greatest strength, he declares: “The secret is in our family and its won’t be revealed.”