Ziona Chana, an Indian man believed to have the world’s largest family with 39 wives, 89 children, and 33 grandchildren, living in the northeastern state of Mizoram, has died at the age of 76 after suffering from a brief illness, according to the Chief Minister of Zoramthanga who announced the death on Twitter.
The 76-year-old Ziona Chana was a Christian sect leader who said his religion promotes polygamy and encourages people to have as many wives and children as possible, fulfilling God’s plans of “going into the world and multiply” reason why he got married to 39 wives.
“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’s tweet read.
Sources say he took over from his father, who founded the Chana Pawl Christian sect in 1942 in the Mizoram’s Baktawang village and now has more than 2000 members who believe in his religion of supporting polygamy.
The deputy commissioner of Serchhip district, Kumar Abhishek, told the news outlet, Anadolu Agency, that it is a big loss to the Mizoram community where Ziona and his family lived.
He described his death as a “huge loss to everyone” and added, “The family is very disciplined, and there are a lot of things to learn from them.”
Abhishek said Ziona died late Sunday in a private hospital where he received treatment from high blood and complications from diabetes based on medical reports.
“He was taken to a private hospital in another district, and as per the reports received, he passed away today (Sunday),” he told Anadolu Agency.
His last wedding was in 2004 when he got married to a 25-year-old with whom he shared the same dormitory before his demise.
He got married to his first wife at the age of 17 in 1959 and years after adding his wives until his last wedding in 2004.
Authorities say the region became a tourist site because of his family. Tourists came to see the man with his entire family, all living in a pink four-story house.
In 2011 he told Reuters news agency that he would want to expand his family further by adding more wives.
Though Polygamy is illegal in India, there are still some communities that such a practice is still being done.