Aizawl, June 15 : The funeral of Zion-a Chana, who was believed to head one of the world's largest families with 38 wives and 89 children, was delayed as his family members believed that the patriarch was alive because his pulse was running.
However, late on Monday night, they finally accepted the death of the septuagenarian Christian cult leader.
Suffering from diabetes, hypertension and other old age ailments, Zion-a Chana or Zionghaka, 76, died at a private hospital in Mizoram capital Aizawl on Sunday afternoon.
But his family members at Baktawng village, about 100 km from Aizawl, and about 3,000 followers of the religious cult (Lalpa Kohhran Thar) believed that he was alive as his body was still warm.
The family members finally accepted the death of the patriarch late on Monday night.
Lalpa Kohhran Thar Secretary Zaitinkhuma said that Chana's funeral would take place at Baktawng village.
Family sources said that the commune leaders would be holding a meeting on Tuesday night to decide on his official funeral. However, he would be interred in the Baktawng village.
An official of Aizawl district administration said that Chana was unwell since June 7 and he was already dead by the time he was brought to the hospital on Sunday.
Mizoram Governor P.S. Sreedharan Pillai and Chief Minister Zoramthanga have condoled Chana's demise.
The Governor said in a tweet: "Deepest condolences to bereaved family of Pu Zion-a, believed to be head of world's largest family. His self-reliant and hardworking community at Baktawng Tlangnuam village is a major tourist attraction for Mizoram." Zoramthanga said: "Mizoram and his village at Baktawng Tlangnuam became a major tourist attraction in the state because of the family. Rest in Peace Sir!" Born on July 21, 1945, Chana was the head of a family comprising over 1,000 members. Husband to 38 wives, he fathered 89 children, besides being a grandfather of 33 children.
The family lives in a four-storied house called 'Chhuan Thar Run' (new generation home) with over 100 rooms in the hilly village.
The giant mansion of Chana has a 'khualbuk' (guesthouse) to lodge relatives and visitors. There is a school and a playground almost exclusively for the big Christian family.
Ziona's sons and their wives, and all their children, live in different large rooms in the same building, but share a common kitchen, while his wives shared a dormitory near his bedroom.
The family members support their own resources, besides occasionally receiving donations and gifts from their followers.
The mansion has become a major tourist attraction in the mountainous bordering state.
According to the local officials, the family is organised with almost military discipline, with the oldest wife Zathiangi supervising her fellow partners and associates performing household chores such as cleaning, washing and preparing meals, among others.
One evening meal required 30 chickens, around 60 kg of potatoes and around 100 kg of rice. Coincidentally, Chana was also the head of the sect that allows its members to marry as many women as they want.
Officials said that Chana had married 10 women in a year many years ago.
He kept his youngest wife near to his bedroom with the elder wife of the family sleeping a little away, while there was a rotational system for the others visiting his bedroom, as per his wishes.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at email@example.com)