Ziona Chana married for the first time at the age of 17 and proceeded to expand his family.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on June 17, 2021. It has since been updated.
A man who is believed to be the head of the world's largest family passed away.
According to NBC News, Ziona Chana, reported to have 39 wives and 94 children, passed away on June 13, 2021, in Mizoram, a northeastern state in India. The 76-year-old belonged to a local Christian sect that practiced polygamy. The exact number of his wives and children is contested, with some Indian outlets claiming he has 38 wives and 89 children. He and his family lived in a four-storied pink structure with around 100 rooms in Baktawng, a remote village in the state. People's curiosity about his lifestyle and family has invited a lot of attention over the years and the family's residence became a local tourist attraction.
With heavy heart, #Mizoram bid farewell to Mr. Zion-a (76), believed to head the world's largest family, with 38 wives and 89 children.— Zoramthanga (@ZoramthangaCM) June 13, 2021
Mizoram and his village at Baktawng Tlangnuam has become a major tourist attraction in the state because of the family.
Rest in Peace Sir! pic.twitter.com/V1cHmRAOkr
His death was announced by the chief minister of the state via Twitter.
"With heavy heart, #Mizoram bid farewell to Mr. Zion-a (76)..., Mizoram and his village at Baktawng Tlangnuam has become a major tourist attraction in the state because of the family. Rest in Peace Sir!" wrote the chief minister, Zoramthanga.
Officials confirmed that the man passed away as a result of diabetes and high blood pressure. “He was taken to a private hospital in another district and as per the reports received, he passed away today," said Kumar Abhishek, the deputy commissioner of Serchhip district.
Ziona Chana had become a sensation due to the size of the family that stayed together; he passed away due to complications related to diabetes and high blood pressure— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) June 13, 2021
Ziona's tribe Chana Pawl was founded by his father in 1942. According to USA Today, the sect has about 2000 members, among which most of them have settled in the village of Baktawang. Though the practice of polygamy is illegal in India, it is prevalent in some communities across the country.
Ziona reportedly married for the first time at the age of 17. He soon went on to expand his family. Once, the man claimed that he married 10 wives in a single year. All his wives were given a dormitory near his private room. The locals stated that the man liked to have at least seven or eight of them by his side.
Despite having a large family, Ziona was open to the idea of adding more members to his household. "I am ready to expand my family and 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," said Ziona in 2011 to Reuters.
The family gained recognition as the largest unit by Ripley's Believe It or Not with 167 members. However, it depends on whether the 33 grandchildren of Chana are included in the count.
Another man, Winston Blackmore from a polygamous Mormon sect in Canada, has 27 wives and 150 children, totaling 178 people in total.
Cover Image Source: 60 Minutes Youtube video screenshot