One giant family in Mizoram


MIZORAM: February is going to be a busy month for the world's largest family. With three births expected next month, Pu Ziona's brood will breach the 200-member mark. Ziona, who lives with his extraordinary family in a large mansion in Mizoram's Baktawng Thlangnuam village, about 70 km southeast of state capital Aizawl, is gearing up for the impending births — from one of his 39 wives, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter-in-law.

In fact every single day is a busy day for the 197-member family that dwells in a massive, fourstorey mansion named 'Chhuanthar Run' , which means 'new generation' in Mizo. Ziona, 69, heads the sect named after his father — who founded it way back in 1942 — and has 86 sons and daughters by his 39 wives, the youngest of whom is just 32 years old. His eldest progeny, a son, Parliana, is 50 and the youngest, a daughter, Hnamhlunengi, is just seven. Next month, Ziona will become a 'proud' father once again, of his 87th child, while his eighth son will also become a father , as will the eldest son of Ziona's second son.

Apart from Ziona and his 39 wives, the inhabitants of 'Chhuanthar Run' include his 40 sons, 22 of his 46 daughters, 86 of his 128 grandchildren, 15 daughters-in-law and granddaughtersin-law , and four sons-in-law . Naturally , keeping such a household running — and this is done with near-military precision — is a challenge that Ziona's eldest wife, 73-year-old Thiangi, meets rather efficiently everyday.

The house is a veritable beehive of activity; each person has an assigned task that he or she must perform. Thiangi prepares the weekly roster of duties for the women and, significantly, draws up the conjugal roster too. Each of Ziona's wives is assigned a week with him. "Every wife, save for the post-menopause lot, gets to spend a week in Pu Ziona's room and during this period, she takes care of all his needs," said Lalruatkimi, Ziona's 18th wife. Surprisingly, there is no bad blood between the wives.

Apart from the conjugal responsibilities , Thiangi's main task is managing logistics. At present, the family consumes 45 kilos of rice, 20 kilos of pulses, 35 kilos of meat and 20 kilos of vegetables at every meal. Thiangi has to ensure an adequate stock of rations is maintained. Some women are also assigned community work, like joining volunteers from the village in constructing a road, or gathering firewood.

Ziona prepares the daily roster for community work at the crack of dawn for the men and older boys of his family as well as that of the village. He joins them in such work every morning.

Ziona's 38th wife, 37-year-old Zuari, will become a mother next month and his other wives will act as midwives, a task they have become adept at. "We don't need any nurses or doctors at childbirth . Our womenfolk have enough experience and no woman in this house has suffered from any sort of complications during or after delivery," says Parliana proudly. Two days after Zuari's child is born, she'll present the child to her husband for his blessings. Ziona will also name this child, as well as his son's and grandson's newborns. This is an honour reserved exclusively for him, not only by his own brood, but also by all others who make up the 35,000-strong 'Chana Pawl' sect.

To his credit, Ziona remembers the names of most of those he has christened. "All members of the sect present their newborns to Pu Ziona and he blesses and then names them. These are all Mizo names," says C Lalringthanga , a sect spokesman. This is one thing that sets members of the 'Chana Pawl' sect apart from other Mizos (87 per cent of whom are Christian), almost all of who have Christian names.

Lalrinthanga, a former banker who took voluntary retirement to devote himself to the sect, says there's no doctrinal difference between them and other Protestant sects. "But where we differ is diligently practising the values the gospel tells us — like honesty, hard work, helping the neighbours , simplicity and equality. We have a strong Mizo influence in our religious ceremonies, unlike other denominations which practise western-style rituals," he explained. His son is married to one of Ziona's daughters while Ziona's 28th son has married his eldest daughter.

The sect of 'Chana Pawl' which was formed in 1942 by Pu Chana, are known for their carpentry and aluminum utensil making skills. "They're very good craftsmen and very enterprising . They're also reputed to be honest," says the state's rural development minister R Lalzirliana .

But what also sets this sect apart is that its head is allowed to be polygamous. Ziona says his marriage to 39 women was decreed by God. Asked if he would marry again, he says: "It's God's will. If he desires, I shall marry again" .

His eldest son Parliana has two wives, but no one is sure if he'll be anointed successor. If he is, he'll have formidable shoes (and bed) to fill. 
 
 

The world's biggest family: The man with 39 wives, 94 children and 33 grandchildren

By Daily Mail Reporter
Created 5:04 PM on 19th February 2011

  • Ziona Chana lives with all of them in a 100-room mansion
  • His wives take it in turns to share his bed
  • It takes 30 whole chickens just to make dinner
He is head of the world's biggest family - and says he is 'blessed'  to have his 39 wives.
Ziona Chana also has 94 children, 14-daughters-in-law and 33 grandchildren.
They live in a 100-room, four storey house set amidst the hills of Baktwang village in the Indian state of Mizoram, where the wives sleep in giant communal dormitories.
The full monty: The Ziona family in its entirety with all 181 members
The full monty: The Ziona family in its entirety with all 181 members

You treat this place like a hotel: With 100 rooms the Ziona mansion is the biggest concrete structure in the hilly village of Baktawng
You treat this place like a hotel: With 100 rooms, the Ziona mansion is the biggest concrete structure in the hilly village of Baktawng in Mizoram, India
Mr Chana told the Sun: 'Today I feel like God's special child. He's given me so many people to look after.
'I consider myself a lucky man to be the husband of 39 women and head of the world's largest family.'
The family is organised with almost military discipline, with the oldest wife Zathiangi organising her fellow partners to perform household chores such as cleaning, washing and preparing meals. 
One evening meal can see them pluck 30 chickens, peel 132lb of potatoes and boil up to 220lb of rice.
Coincidentally, Mr Chana is also head of a sect that allows members to take as many wives as he wants.
Feeling peckish? The senior ladies of the Chana family show what it takes just to make a meal
Feeling peckish? The senior ladies of the Chana family show what it takes just to make a meal

The wives and I: Mr Ziona Chana poses with his 39 wives at their home in Baktawang, Mizoram, India
The wives and me: Mr Ziona Chana poses with his 39 wives at their home in Baktawng

He even married ten women in one year, when he was at his most prolific, and enjoys his own double bed while his wives have to make do with communal dormitories. 
He keeps the youngest women near to his bedroom with the older members of the family sleeping further away - and there is a rotation system for who visits Mr Chana's bedroom.
Rinkmini, one of Mr Chana's wives who is 35 years old, said: 'We stay around him as he is the most important person in the house. He is the most handsome person in the village.
 
She says Mr Chana noticed her on a morning walk in the village 18 years ago and wrote her a letter asking for her hand in marriage.
Shared bedroom: A look inside the four-storey mansion, Chhuanthar Run - The House of the New Generation
Shared bedroom: A look inside the four-storey mansion, Chhuanthar Run - The House of the New Generation
Another of his wives, Huntharnghanki, said the entire family gets along well. The family system is reportedly based on 'mutual love and respect'
And Mr Chana, whose religious sect has 4,00 members, says he has not stopped looking for new wives.
'To expand my sect, I am willing to go even to the U.S. to marry,' he said.
One of his sons insisted that Mr Chana, whose grandfather also had many wives, marries the poor women from the village so he can look after them.