Ziona Chana family high res
Ziona Chana’s large family lives in the village of Baktawng Tlangnuam, in northeast India.
Adnan Abidi/REUTERS
  • Ziona Chana was believed to be head of the world's largest family, with 39 wives, 94 children, and 33 grandchildren.
  • His family's four-storey, 100-room house was a major tourist attraction.
  • He once said he married 10 wives in one year, and married his first wife when he was 17.
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Ziona Chana, a 76-year-old man with 39 wives, 94 children, and 33 grandchildren, died on Sunday in India's northeastern state of Mizoram.

Chana was the head of a local Christian sect called Chana Pawl, according to reports from Mizoram.

Male members of Chana Pawl are allowed to practice polygamy, and families are encouraged to live communally. The sect believes that Jesus will return to rule the Earth for 1,000 years, as written in the New Testament's Revelations, chapter 20.

Accounts differ on the exact size of Chana's family, but local media believe it to be the world's largest, with around 181 members, including 14 daughters-in-law.

Winston Blackmore, the leader of a polygamous Mormon sect in Canada, reportedly has 27 wives and 150 children.

Chana and his family lived in a four-storey, 100-room building that has attracted tourists curious about their lifestyle to the region.

His wives live in a dormitory next to his private bedroom, and Chana was said to have seven or eight of them at his side at all times, according to Reuters.

Ziona Chana house
Ziona Chana and his family live in a four-storey, 100-room building that attracts tourists curious about their lifestyle
Adnan Abidi/REUTERS

He once claimed to have married 10 wives in one year, and that he married his first wife when he was 17.

His sect Chana Pawl was formed in 1942 by his father and now includes hundreds of families - numbering around 2,000 members - who all live near his house.

Mizoram's Chief Minister Zoramthanga tweeted about Chana's death, bidding farewell to the man "with (a) heavy heart" and writing that Chana's family turned Mizoram and their village Baktawng Tlangnuam into a popular tourist attraction.

Chana told Reuters in 2011 that he was ready to expand his family and was "willing to go to any extent to marry."

"I have so many people to care (for) and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man," he said.

Chana, who suffered from diabetes and hypertension, fell ill on June 7 and became unconscious on June 11. He was taken to Trinity Hospital in the state capital of Aizawl on Sunday but died 10 minutes after being admitted.

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