Man with 160-member family in Mizoram

Aizawl: Ziona, a man who celebrated his 67th birthday on July 21, heads a family having 160 members who stay together with him in a four-storied building in Baktawng Tlangnuam village in Mizoram.

Ziona, who belongs to a breakaway sect of the Presbyterian Church has 39 wives who have an age range of 31 to 71 while the age of his children are between five to 50. His family owns jhums, orchards, furniture workshops and stone mines where he works with his sons and daughters daily to provide a living for the enormous family.

"The family expanded during the past one year and now comprises 101 adults and 59 children below the age of 12 years of age," said C. Lalrinthanga, a retired bank officer and public relations officer of the religious sect known as `Chana Pawl` to which Ziona belongs. The sect is named after Chana, the father of Ziona.

He has 15 daughters-in-law living at the home known as Chhuanthar Run, while 29 of his daughters have married and live separately with their husbands. His first and oldest wife Zathiangi, who bore him seven children, is now 71 years old while the youngest wife Vanlalsiami, whom he married in 2000 is now 31 years and has a five-year-old daughter.

He is known fondly to the members of the sect as `Hotupa` or leader. The entire family share the same kitchen and have all their meals together. The family eats 35 to 40 kilogramme for dinner and 50 kilogramme of rice for the morning meal. The family`s dinner usually includes 25 kilogramme of potato, 15 kilograms of pulses and a large quantity of vegetables. If they have meat, they eat around 45 kilogramme cooked with vegetables.

Ziona provides the workforce to other members of the sect free which require manpower, be it construction of a new house or help in the gardens, Lalrinthanga said. The oldest wife Zathiangi draws up a up duty roster for other wives to take turns for household chores.

The sect, a breakaway group of the Presbyterian Church came into being on June 12, 1942 after Khuangtuaha, the founder was evicted from Hmawngkawn village by the village chief reportedly at the instigation by the then British officers. Christian missionaries felt that the theology of Khuangtuaha was too liberal and dangerous.

The members of the sect, earlier known as `Khuangtuaha Pawl` after the death of Khuangtuaha as `Chana Pawl` still observe June 12 every year as `Bawkte Kut` or `festival of the hut` to commemorate the eviction and birth of the sect.

Chana, who inherited the baton from his late brother Khuangtuaha believed in polygamy and that god permitted him to marry as many wives he could feed and reportedly had more than his son Ziona. After Chana died on February 27, 1997, the leadership of the sect was taken over by Ziona.

The sect believes that the members would rule the world for a thousand years after the return of Christ to earth. The village has a branch of Young Mizo Association (YMA) like other villages and also units of different political parties including the BJP, Lalrinthanga said.