Zionnghaka Chana, the leader of a cult based in northeastern India has made it to the top of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not list. The 67 year-old Chana won the distinction among other oddities for having 39 wives and 120 children and grandchildren. “Nice to get the spotlight, but there’s nothing strange about my marriages or my large family,” Chana said from Baktawng, a village 100 km north of Mizoram, the capital of Aizawl. “Our faith allows us to marry as many women as possible and I had married 10 women in a single year,” he said. The clan is part of a Christian cult called Channa, named after Zionnghaka’s father Challianchana, who died in 1997.

The cult, founded by Challianchana some time in the early 1930s, is now spread over four generations and boasts of having some 1,700 members. Challianchana was believed to have had 50 wives, with Zionnghaka being the eldest of his many children. There is no count available of the number of children Challianchana had. The  members live in a 100-room four-storey building perched on a hilltop. The youngest of the younger Chana's many wives sleeps in a chamber nearby her master's bedroom, while the other wives share his bed in a concerted rotational system. Chana has expressed the desire of getting married yet again.

Church leaders in the region, predominantly Presbyterian, however reject the cult’s claims to be Christian. There are an estimated 95 Christian cults in Mizoram with diverse practices - some of them do not allow their children to mingle with others and attend school, while some of the sects claim their members to be gods.

The Ripley’s recognition has not amused church leaders either. “Christianity does not allow polygamy and hence accepting the Channa cult as Chrisitan does not arise at all,” said a Presbyterian Synod elder.

Source: Hindustan Times



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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