5,000 Indians stood in line on Thursday to get a small live fish in the throat, an atypical treatment supposed to fight against asthma. Each year in June, people with asthma gather in Hyderabad (southern India) to swallow a wriggling fish in whose mouth a ball of herbal paste is supposed to act as a traditional remedy. The process is supposed to allow them to breathe more easily.
The Bathini Goud family, who administers the treatment, says the fish cleans the throat as it descends and definitively cures asthma and other respiratory problems. The clan refuses to reveal its secret formula, which he says he learned from a Hindu saint in 1845. The volunteers stuff the fish and the cure suddenly into the patient’s glottis, close it abruptly the jaw and clog the nose To force him to swallow it. Some parents must hold their children in tears at the sight of the wriggling fish.
Thousands of people come from all over India for this two-day distribution, whose dates are determined each year according to the arrival of the monsoon. The medical community denounces this practice as “unscientific” and is concerned about the hygiene of the proceedings, accusations rejected by the family. The Indian government chartered special trains for this festival of “fish medicine” and additional police were deployed to channel the crowd. After digestion of the treatment, patients should follow a strict diet for 45 days.