A man believed to have been the head of the world’s largest family – with 39 wives and 94 children, according to Reuters – has died in northeast India, officials said.
Ziona Chana, 76, leader of a local Christian sect that allows polygamy, died Sunday, the chief minister of Mizoram state in the northeast of the country announced via Twitter.
Chana lived with her family in a sprawling four-story pink structure with around 100 rooms in Baktawng, a remote village that has become a tourist attraction, Zoramthanga, the named chief minister, said on Monday.
According to Reuters, the sect, named Chana, was founded by Chana’s grandfather in 1942 and has hundreds of families among its members. Chana married his first wife at the age of 17 and claimed he had already married 10 women in a single year.
Although illegal, polygamy is practiced in some communities in India.
The wives shared a dormitory near his private room, and locals told Reuters he liked having seven or eight by his side at all times.
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Despite the enormous size of her family, Chana told Reuters in an interview in 2011 that he wanted to make it even bigger.
“I am ready to expand my family and will do anything to get married,” he said. “I have so many people to care for and care for, and I consider myself a lucky man.”
The BBC reported that with a total of 167 members, the clan was named the largest family in the world by “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”, although that depends on whether you count the grandchildren, of which Chana has some. 33.
Winston Blackmore, the leader of a polygamous Mormon cult in Canada, by contrast, has around 150 children from 27 wives, or 178 people in total.
CORRECTION (June 15, 2021, 5:48 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the father’s name in two captions. He’s Ziona Chana, not Chanda.