A man believed to have the world’s largest family, including 39 wives, 94 children, 33 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, has died in the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram.
Ziona Chana, 76, was the head of a polygamous Christian religious sect with 4,000 members, and his extended family all lived together in one 100-room, four-storied mansion in the remote village of Baktawng Tlangnuam. The sect was founded by his father.
Mr Chana, a construction worker, developed a rota system for which of his wives would share his bed on any given night, with his remaining spouses sharing a dormitory nearby.
“I consider myself a lucky man to be the husband of 39 women and head of the world’s largest family,” Mr Chana told the Daily Mirror in 2012.
The polygamist married his first wife, Zathiangi, at the age of 17, and reportedly wedded 10 of his other wives in the space of one year. His last marriage came in 2004 to a 25-year-old woman.
As his longest-standing wife, Zathiangi was given the responsibility of organising domestic chores.
Polygamy is illegal under Indian law but permitted among a few northeastern tribes.
His children and their partners lived in different rooms in the building but shared a common kitchen. The household was self-sufficient, running its own school and growing its own crops. It consumes as much as 100 kilograms of rice and 70 kilograms of potatoes every day.
As a result, his unconventional mansion has become something of a tourist attraction.
A guesthouse had been constructed within the residence to accommodate visitors – including many from abroad.
In 2014, the family featured in an advertisement of a leading dishwasher brand, according to the Hindustan Times, and twice appeared on the popular television show Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.
“With heavy heart, Mizoram bid farewell to Ziona, believed to head the world’s largest family,” said Mizoram’s Chief Minister, Zoramthanga, who like many inhabitants of the state goes by one name.
“Mizoram and his village at Baktawng Tlangnuam has become a major tourist attraction in the state because of the family. Rest in Peace Sir!”
Doctors in Mizoram said Mr Chana died in the state capital of Aizawl after his diabetes and hypertension deteriorated.
There is some dispute as to whether Mr Chana was the head of the world’s largest family – one Canadian man has allegedly fathered 150 children.