Indian man with 'world's largest family' dies, leaving behind over 89 children

An Indian man and head of a religious sect that practiced polygamy died on Sunday. Ziona Chana reportedly left behind 39 wives, 94 children and 33 grandchildren. The exact number of his children is contested, with some Indian outlets claiming he has 89 children.

Chana himself claimed to have the "world's largest family" however, it's a claim difficult to confirm, and others including Canada’s Winston Blackmore are believed to have more than 100 children .

Chana from the northeastern state of Mizoram and lead a religious sec called Chana Pawl, was founded by his father in 1942, according to Aljazeera. Chana Pawl has about 2,000 members, most of them living in Mizoram’s Baktawang village.

On Sunday, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga announced Chana’s death on Twitter.

“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,” he said.

According to officials, Chana died due to complications related to diabetes and high blood pressure, Indian media reports said.

“He was taken to a private hospital in another district and as per the reports received, he passed away today (Sunday),” Kumar Abhishek, the deputy commissioner of Serchhip district, told Anadolu Agency.

Large families: A Malian woman was expecting seven babies. Instead, she gave birth to nine.

Chana married his first wife in 1959 when he was 17 and claimed to marry 10 wives in a single year, according to Aljazeera. Chana married his last wife 2004 who was a 25-year-old.

Reportedly the religious sect live in a pink four-story house, called the “New Generation Home." It has 100 rooms to hold the large family and the wives share a dormitory near Chana’s private room.

Although polygamy is illegal under the Indian law, a few tribes in India’s northeast allow polygamy under their customary laws, which state authorities permit.

Despite his family’s huge size, Chana told Reuters news agency in a 2011 interview he wanted to grow it even further.

“I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry,” Chana told Reuters. "I have so many people to care for and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man.”

Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'World's largest family': Man with 89 kids Ziona Chana dies in India