A 76-year-old husband and father believed to be the head of the world’s largest family living under one roof has died of unconfirmed causes.
Ziona Chana, the head of a religious sect that practised polygamy, died on Sunday in India’s Mizoram state, leaving behind 38 wives, approximately 89 children and 36 grandchildren according to one report, although others differ.
The Christian sect, which allows men to have unlimited wives, was founded by Chana’s grandfather in 1942.
The news of his death was confirmed by Mizoram’s chief minister, Zoramthanga, who offered his condolences on Twitter “with a heavy heart”.
Chana reportedly suffered from diabetes and hypertension. Doctors told PTI news agency that he suddenly fell sick at home on Sunday. His condition deteriorated and he was rushed to hospital on Sunday evening, where he was declared dead on arrival.
The enormous family lives together in a four-storey mansion called “Chuuar Than Run” or “New Generation House”, with 100 rooms, in the remote village of Baktawng Tlangnuam.
His wives share a dormitory near Chana’s private bedroom, according to local media. He liked to keep his younger wives nearest to him on the same floor as his bedroom, while his older wives sleep on the lower floors.
During the day he liked to have seven or eight wives with him all the time to wait on him hand and foot.
He had the luxury of his own bedroom in the house, to which the wives were summoned in turn.
The vast house has its own school, a playground, carpentry workshops, piggery and poultry farms, padi fields, and a vegetable garden big enough to feed the entire extended family.
Meal times are like feeding an army. A typical meal can see the women plucking 30 chickens, peeling mountains of potatoes and boiling up vats of rice. All the cooking is done over an open fire kept burning throughout the day.
Chana’s eldest wife Zathiangi, 69, delegates all the daily duties around the house to his other wives, their daughters and daughters-in-law.
The mansion is a major tourist attraction in the state, with people from around the world crowding the village to get a peek into the family’s lifestyle.
According to Reuters, Chana was born in 1945. He met his oldest wife, who is three years older than him, when he was 17.
The family belongs to a Christian sect – Chana Pawl – that has around 2,000 followers who all live around the house.
He always said he felt blessed to have such a large brood, The Sun Online reported.
He was called “Ka pa” or simply Father by his family.
He was the hereditary leader of the Chana sect, who believe they will one day rule the world with Christ.
He once said: “I feel like God’s special child. He’s given me so many people to look after.”