Hundreds of people gathered in the capital of India's southern Telangana state to seek cures for their health problems by swallowing live fish on Wednesday.
At a temporary health camp in Hyderabad city, people with respiratory problems including asthma and bronchitis were fed herbal medicines inserted into live Murrel fish, which are generally two to three inches long.
Ailing people from afar gathered at the camp to receive the medicine, which has been reported by earlier patients to bring relief.
"My brother had a respiratory problem and even I have the same issue. The last time, I came with him, but I did not take the medicine. This is the first time I am going to receive it. My brother took the medicine and he said he felt relief," said Yogesh Sood, one of the patients who had come from western Punjab state.
The annual camp is organised by the Bathini family, which has been providing the medicine to the needy since over 160 years. They distribute the medicine to patients during the auspicious Mrigasira solar phase, an astrological phenomenon which occurs once a year for two days.
"This year, we will provide the medicine to people from 8 AM, for the next 24 hours. We make three types of medicine. For one, we insert the herbal substance into a fish and then feed the fish to people. The second one is made for people from castes like Brahmin and Vaishyas and clans like Agarwal (generally vegetarian people); for them, we mix the herbal substances with jaggery. The third kind, called 'Katik Prasad', we give it to people to take home," said Bathini Harinath Goud, one of the members of the family.
He further added the medicine is provided free of cost.
The fish helps to clear the patient's oesophagus as it makes its way down to the stomach, and later releases the medicine. It survives for about 15 minutes inside the body, and clears phlegm in the lungs as it flaps about.
The patients have to strictly follow a complete course of the treatment for four years continuously to get cured.