Mizoram Ziona is said to be the head of the world’s largest family. He has an incredible 39 wives, 94 children, 14 daughters-in-law and 33 grandchildren. That’s a total of 180 people in the family.
Here Is Mizoram Ziona’s Story
He lives in the Baktawng Tlanguam village of the Sercchip District in India. It is close to the borders of Bangladesh and Myanmar. The whole family lives in the same place and essentially under the same roof, which must be quite trying at times. See what his wives have to say about their unusual lifestyle, from their sleeping arrangements to what it’s like for 39 women to share the same husband.
He Is the Head of a Religion
Ziona’s upbringing wasn’t exactly what we’d consider “normal.” He was born in Baktawng to a religious family. In fact, his father founded his own Christian sub-faith known locally as “Chana Pawl.” Originally the faith was called Khuangtuaha Pawl because Ziona’s father had named it after himself, but it appears to have been too much of a mouthful for his followers and the contraction “Chana” quickly became standard usage everywhere.
Khuangthuaha was from the Hmawangkawn village nearby, but he and his followers had been forcibly evicted by the village headman who felt his new faith was dangerous to others.
Chana Pawl Has Very Distinct Beliefs
According to its followers, the origin of Chana Pawl is rooted in the 1,000 years spent on earth by Jesus Christ in the book of Revelation, chapter 20. Its largest religious festival is the “Bawkte Kut,” which roughly translates as the “Festival of the Hut” and it takes place on June 12 each year to celebrate the founding of the movement.
One facet of the Chana Pawl religion should be abundantly clear from looking at Ziona’s family; polygamy is formally encouraged for its followers. It’s not a hugely popular religion though, and there are only 2,000 followers in total.
Ziona’s Marriages Are Not Planned
You might thank that a man with 38 wives would have some sort of plan as to when he gets married (and to whom he gets married), but Ziona is quite happy to disabuse people of that notion. He points out that he married 10 different women in a single year, and that rather than seeking out relationships with these women, they come to him.
He says that women are drawn to him from the poorer families in his village and they come in search of a better, richer life. Given the levels of poverty in that part of India, this is entirely possible.
You don’t have to take Ziona at face value for his benevolence. His wives, unlike in some more sinister religious groups, are completely free to talk about their experiences as part of the largest family on earth.
His wife Rinkmini says that she wasn’t forced to marry Ziona, but that he began pursuit of her when they were both out for a morning walk in the village one day. When he came to ask for her hand in marriage, she was happy to agree. She told the Daily Mail, “He is the most handsome person in the village.”
The Family Has a Good Reputation
You might be wondering if the state has any objections to Chana Pawl in the way that the American government has objected to polygamous cults in the past.
The truth is that the family is well-liked and well-established within their region of the world and rather than having concerns about their behavior, the local government appears to be quite in favor of it. The local rural development minister R. Lalzirilana said, “They’re very good craftsmen and very enterprising. They’re also reputed to be honest.” Which is a fairly ringing endorsement from a government official in India.
Ziona Says He Is Blessed
While there’s a good chance that most people would prefer to have fewer than 38 spouses, Ziona feels that he has been blessed and has said, “Today I feel like God’s special child. He’s given me so many people to look after.”
His followers are also happy with the arrangements. C. Lalringthanga, whose daughter is married to Ziona, says that the whole family is dedicated to “diligently practicing the values the gospel tells us — like honesty, hard work, helping the neighbors, simplicity, and equality.” Ziona’s family may be a cult due to their religious nature and the small number of followers, but they don’t appear to be a danger to themselves or anyone else.
Managing the Family Is Not Always Easy
Ziona says, “I consider myself to be a lucky man to be the husband of 39 women and the head of the world’s largest family,” but even he would have to admit that managing all these people makes for some fairly unusual arrangements in the home.
If you have 180 people under your roof, you can’t do what most families do and make things up as you go along, you need strict routines to ensure that everyone’s needs are met and that this happens in a timely fashion. So the day-to-day logistics of family life are more like a military operation than a traditional family home.
Everyone Gets a Daily Chore
The family’s two “managers” are Ziona himself and his first wife Zathiangi. Each morning they get up before dawn and their job is to determine what must be done in the family home that day.
Once they’ve agreed on the details between them, every wife in the family is then summoned and given her instructions for the day. They will all be involved in ensuring that the home runs smoothly and in a way that’s beneficial to the whole family. There’s no chance of any details slipping past Zathiangi who, despite being in her 70s, is still as smart as a whip according to the other wives.
It’s An Early Start To Home Life
The area of India which the family lives in is quite rural and thus along with rural families everywhere, they like to get an early start on the day as the sun comes up.
Most days the family will all be out of bed by 5:50 a.m. and they will have a few minutes to rub the sleep out of their eyes as they are assigned their chores. Then they will all get together for an act of prayer before beginning the day properly. They work together throughout the day, finally stopping for a rest in the early evening over a large communal meal.
Meal Times Are Extraordinary
180 people need a lot of food to sustain themselves. If you think your weekly grocery bill is excessive, then you might want to think of Chana Pawl next time you go shopping and breathe a sigh of relief.
A single meal at Ziona’s house can require more than 100 pounds of rice. They also consume over 44 pounds of pulses. The family is not vegetarian either, and they’ll usually get through 77lbs of meat or so with each meal, too. As you can imagine, cooking takes a lot of effort and preparation and the washing up isn’t a quick task either.
They Really Do Share a Single Roof
The entire family really does live under a single roof which is something outsiders find hard to believe. They have built their own home on the mountainside near the village. It has four stories and over a hundred rooms inside its enormous walls. However, we’re not entirely certain that the building would pass a building code inspection elsewhere and it doesn’t appear to be entirely safe.
Ziona’s wives do not have their own rooms, but rather they all share a group of communal bedrooms. Presumably, this encourages them to bond with each other and reduces rivalry between them.
There’s No Jealousy, but There Is a Schedule
Ziona’s wives’ communal bedrooms are essentially dormitories with rows of beds. Ziona himself, however, is not to be found sleeping alongside them in their dorm rooms. As you might expect, as head of the family, Ziona has his own private bedroom and it contains a single double bed. Ziona does not expect his wives to all come to his marital bed at once.
In fact, they all work on a rotation system where each wife is given a week of bedroom time with Ziona before the next wife moves into the bedroom and the other returns to the dormitory. The wives insist that none of them feels jealousy in this arrangement.
Each wife is given a number so that she knows her order of arrival within the family. However, apart from the first wife Zathiangi who assists her husband in chore allocation, no wife has any level of position above any other; they are all considered equals.
Lalruatkimi is wife number 18. She says, “Every wife, save for the post-menopause lot, gets to spend a week in Pu Ziona’s room. During this period, she takes care of all his needs.” Fortunately, she has left the concept of “all his needs” to our imaginations. The strange arrangements seem to work for everyone involved.
Wives Are Arranged in Age Order
While everything, so far, has seemed quite egalitarian with wives expressing their contentment with the arrangements and Ziona appearing to treat everyone equally, there is one aspect of their living arrangements which suggests that this might not be entirely true.
The youngest wives live closest to Ziona’s sleeping quarters. The older the wife, the further away from his room she is kept. Which suggests that Ziona has a pecking order of sorts even if it isn’t an official thing. The women, however, insist that these arrangements engender mutual love and respect for each other. So maybe, we’re overthinking this.
Child Care Goes with Experience
The oldest women in the family are assigned to childcare duties most days and no matter who is the mother of which child, the young ones will spend most of the day with their oldest step mothers. This is quite a common practice in rural India where grandparents will often take the greatest part of raising a child so that the younger parents can work.
The family also has a high demand for the services of midwives as new arrivals are constantly taking place and again the role of midwife will be played by one of the oldest wives. They’re pretty good at it too.
Parliana Speaks Up
If you think that amateur midwifery sounds kind of dangerous, the family would beg to differ and in fact, it’s a point of pride for them that they can handle jobs like these within the family.
One of Ziana’s sons, Parliana, went on record with The Times of India about this: “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.” A 100% successful record of complication-free births is not to be sneezed at; most hospitals wish they could say the same.
The Family Takes Care of All Its Own Needs
One of the key things that keeps the Chana Pawl respectable in the eyes of all those around them is their dedication to taking care of all of their own needs. The family prides itself of self-sufficiency, and while the household chores are a big part of everyone’s day, that’s not the only work that they have to attend to.
They own and manage several local farms and they grow and harvest all their own food crops. The children are also educated in a purpose-built school by other family members. They are a family which believes in the value of education.
There May Be More Wives Coming
Ziona is now in his 70s, and you might think that he’d be ready for a quieter life, but he says that’s not really in his plans. What he’d really like are a few more wives to join his clan.
He’s quite interested in adding someone more exotic to the family next time and says he’s ready to travel to meet the 39th special lady in his life, “To expand my sect, I am willing to go even to the U.S. to marry.” Who knows? Maybe he’ll get lucky and an American woman will invite him over?
They Made It into Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
The world’s largest family isn’t quite as strange as you might expect when looking from the outside in, but they’re not exactly a commonplace occurrence either. That’s what got the family featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! In fact, they’ve been on the lists twice. The first time they appeared was in 2011 when they made the “Top 11 strangest stories for the year.”
Then in 2013, they appeared in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Book Number 9. What comes next for Ziona and his family? Only time will tell. We wish them luck and happiness and hope that you will too.
Meet Tommy Connolly
Before everything changed, Tommy Connolly was a thriving college athlete. Then, one day he received a perplexing Facebook message. At 23-years-old, Connolly evolved into a father and a grandfather within a matter of days.
We know you’re wondering how this all happened. What was the message he got on Facebook? How is any of this possible? We assure you, it is and the story is breathtaking. Prepare for the ride; you’re in for a good one.
The Aussie Way
Connolly isn’t from America. He grew up in Queensland, Australia. Growing up Down Under instilled a great sense of adventure into Connolly. Queensland is an Australian state located on the northeast side of the continent. You can see the Great Barrier Reef right offshore.
He’s always out looking for the next journey to embark on, but even he wasn’t prepared for what was to come. An average college student’s life was about to lead in a new direction.
The Hard-Working Athlete
Connolly was a dedicated student-athlete. He competed in track and field for the University of the Sunshine Coast. Anyone who has run track competitively knows the strenuous amount of hours that you must put in to stay in competition shape.
For student-athletes, it’s already hard enough to balance school work and practice, so imagine becoming a father and grandfather. He couldn’t juggle everything, so, unfortunately, running had to take a back seat for Connolly. He is very mature for such a young man.
A Positive Light To Everyone
A person who is fun-loving and always keeps a smile on their face is a great person to have as a friend. In this picture, you see Connolly and his great mate, Grimmy during Halloween.
Connolly knows how to make people smile just like his friend is in this photograph. His friends and family say his shining personality is always in good company. Those intangibles translated perfectly for him as he transitioned into the grandfather and father role.
One Who Loves To Travel
Much like with sports, Connolly had to retire another passion of his, or at least find a babysitter. Connolly had a passion for traveling and spent most of his vacation days abroad and seeing places he’s never been to before.
He frequented the United States often and recently traveled to the Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort with his girlfriend for a romantic couple’s weekend. As we said, for that latest trip, he had to secure a babysitter first.
The Relationship Dynamic
Congratulations, you’re one step closer to uncovering the mystery. Connolly’s girlfriend, Olivia Tauro, is also a talented athlete much like her boyfriend. The two haven’t been officially together for too long, but have been “best mates” for quite a while.
“Only a one year anniversary today since ‘officially’ dating this girl but we’ve been best mates for the best part of 8 years,” Connolly wrote on his Facebook. The twist is, Olivia is not the mother or the grandmother in this situation…
Say Hi To His Cousin, Kiarna Chapman
As we outlined earlier, Connolly is always a pleasure to be around. This includes being highly involved with his family, not only his friends. However, his cousin Kiarna Chapman and him hadn’t seen one another since early 2004.
Of course, he still thought about his little cousin now and then. Connolly often thought about what she was up to, (for reasons we’ll touch on later) so in 2015 she finally contacted him with some vital information.
Distant Cousins For A Reason
One reason why the two didn’t speak for so long was due to Kiarna. She had a hard life and didn’t keep in touch with many family members, not just Connolly. In fact, the last time she updated her Facebook was in May 2011.
She was almost illiterate, didn’t have a phone, and would sleep in the streets. None of the family had an idea about her hardships to that extent. “She’s spent more time on the streets than anywhere else, and knows the police better than she knows her own family,” Connolly said.
Life On Her Own
Until you’ve put yourself in someone’s shoes who’s had it rough, it’s tough to judge. Kiarna’s parents were not involved in her life. The only person she had was her boyfriend, but he was arrested and sent to prison. Kiarna had nothing more than some clothes and a backpack as she wandered the streets.
Kiarna allegedly was using illegal substances as she faced many hurdles in her life. “Not many people know her story. It’s very intense. Nobody deserves the life she’s had,” Connolly said. That’s when Kiarna reached out to her big cousin on Facebook.
Figuring Out How To Help
Being the outstanding person Connolly is, he was determined to help out his little cousin. Her message to him was a cry for help. And like we said earlier, Connolly already had a busy life. He was willing to put his life on pause to assist.
“Life dealt Kiarna a poor hand, and she’s had to play it best she could,” Connolly stated. His plan was to open up his home and bring her in. What happened next could not have been predicted.
Get The Paperwork!
In an interesting turn of events, Connolly pulled off the ultimate assist. After knowing everything that his younger cousin has been through, the track runner decided to get the paperwork together and adopt Kiarna.
She was only 17 so he officially became her legal guardian. He quickly turned into the father figure that she needed. His plan was to keep her off the streets and help her brighten up her future. He even bought her a kitten. The craziest part is still to come…
A Baby On The Way
On top of all the stress Kiarna had to live through, she dropped yet another bomb on her cousin. She would be expecting a child by her boyfriend in jail. Naturally, Connolly was shocked to find out this information.
After adjusting to living with Kiarna, he now had to prepare himself for a newborn baby. That’s something only experience can prepare you for and as it stood, Connolly had no experience raising a child. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t try.
Seven Days Later
In only seven days after the adoption, Kiarna had given birth to her child. Connolly hadn’t even realized she was pregnant at the time of adoption. He didn’t know until she told him for the first time.
“All I wanted was to give this little man a better life than I had – a second chance was all I wanted,” Kiarna said. “Since carrying this gorgeous boy, all of my friends kept telling me that he would be taken away from me.” Luckily, she had her older cousin to prevent that.
A Change In Lifestyle
All the trips, running track, and quality time with friends and his girlfriend were now compromised. Connolly’s life changed drastically from one week to the next like no one could have ever seen.
Connolly was forced to move into a different house in order to have more space for everything. His life went from young adult to young father. He accompanied her on trips to the doctor, bought the baby everything he needed, and sacrificed his leisure time.
Tommy Is Delighted To Help
By now, you know how generous Connolly is. A task like this isn’t really a task at all for him. He knew his cousin was in need of help so he did what he had to do because she had no one else there to help.
“Glad to finally say she’s now living in a safe, stable, awesome house … with a brand new bed, and brand new life,” he said. All of these things add up and help show Kiarna what living a positive life looks and feels like. He may be providing the groundwork for her, but Kiarna isn’t snoozing on the job.
She Handles A Bulk Of The Load
As humble as he can be, Connolly admitted he took up the father role, but he also downplayed the amount of effort he put into helping. Kiarna isn’t his true daughter, but the love he provides replicates a real father.
As far as the “work” he does, he claims Kiarna holds the lion’s share of it. “My cousin does 90 percent of the work– and if it’s one or two years of my life I have to put on hold to make sure two lives are going to be saved, it’s nothing at all,” he said.
Highly Supportive Girlfriend
It’s always great to have a support system around that understands who you are as a person. Oliva has been in Connolly’s life for years now and she has a pretty firm understanding of how her boyfriend is. She knows he would do anything to help those in need.
Through it all, she supported her boyfriend and also helped raise young Kayden whenever she can. Even though this is a good thing in many people’s eyes, Connolly couldn’t help but feel guilty…
What’s There To Feel Guilty About?
The reason behind Connolly’s guilt is a noble one. Helping his cousin is, in fact, something good, but Connolly’s awareness grew exponentially after this happened.
“We’ve had all these messages which have made us realize there are so many other people in this situation, I don’t want people to think it’s a unique thing,” he said. Which is true, this isn’t a special situation. Cases like this happen more often than one would think.
Keeping Everyone Up To Date
“There’s still a long way to go, but things are on track and she has the opportunity she deserves,” Connolly shared on social media. “When bad things happen, it’s your family that supports you… It means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”
Despite feeling guilty, Connolly knows the importance of what he’s doing. Hopefully, out of the 4,000 people who shared that message he wrote, at least of them will have the courage to step up when the time calls for it.