Zionnghaka Chana’s wives reportedly followed a rota to decide whose job it was to attend to him on any given day. He had been suffering from diabetes and hypertension.
A 76-year-old sect leader with 39 wives, 94 children and 33 grandchildren has died in the north-east Indian state of Mizoram.
Zionnghaka Chana was the patriarch of a religious sect dubbed the “Mizoram Mormons”. The minor Christian sect, known for its tradition of polygamy, was founded by his grandfather Khuangtuaha in 1942.
Over the years, Chana and his village at Baktawng Tlangnuam became a tourist attraction because of the family’s non-traditional structure and their remarkable living arrangements.
Mizoram’s chief minister said he died due to health complications relating to diabetes and high blood pressure, Wionews.com reported.
Chana passed away around 3pm on Sunday at a private hospital in the state capital, Aizawl, the family told the media.
Dr Lalrintluanga Zahau, director of the Trinity Hospital in Aizawl, told the Press Trust of India: “Ziona was suffering from diabetes and hypertension. He was undergoing treatment at his residence in Baktawng village for three days.
’’But his condition deteriorated and he was rushed to the hospital, where doctors declared him dead.”
The sect leader was born in 1945 and married his first wife, Zathiangi, at the age of 17. He married his last wife – number 38 – in 2004.
Chana’s entire family lives in a four-storey building called “Chhuan Thar Run” or “New Generation Home”, about 70km from Aizawl, the local Ukhrol Times newspaper reported.
While all Chana’s husbands and daughter-in-laws lived at Chhuan Thar Run, in keeping with traditions across the rest of India, his daughters would move away after marriage to live with their husband’s families.
In 2014, local media reported that the family was featured in an advert for a leading dishwashing brand. The actress Sakshi Tanwar, brand ambassador for the dishwashing soap at the time, described the experience of shooting with the family in Mizoram as “special”.
“I couldn’t believe that a family can have 160 members (the family has more than 180 members now) until I met the lovely people from Ziona Chana’s household,” she was quoted as saying.
“I was so surprised to see the quantity of food they need to cook on a daily basis and the sheer number and size of vessels that the women must wash every day.”
The Chana Pawl sect extends beyond the Chana family, and is estimated to have about 2 000 members across Mizoram.
Chana had a bedroom on the ground floor of Chhuan Thar Run where he took turns sleeping with his many wives. The wives reportedly followed a rota to decide whose job it was to attend to him on any given day.
The Times of India, in 2013, reported that Ziona Chana celebrated his 68th birthday by staging an elaborate series of community feasts, with religious songs and dances and military-like parades.
In 2012, Chana told the Mirror that “I consider myself a lucky man to be the husband of 39 women and head of the world’s largest family.”
Local reports said that the family had also been featured twice in Ripley’s Believe it or Not.