Aizawl, June 14
It has been over 36 hours since Zionghaka aka Zion-a, the patriarch of what is believed to be the world's largest family, breathed his last in Mizoram, but his loved ones are not ready to bid him one final goodbye, claiming that he was "still very much alive".
The 76-year-old, who lives in a sprawling four-storey home in Baktawng village with 39 wives, over 90 children and at least 33 grandchildren, headed a religious sect Lalpa Kohhran thar -- which allows polygamy for men.
Zion-a, who was suffering from hypertension and diabetes, was on Sunday declared dead by doctors at Trinity hospital in Aizawl. Family members, however, insisted that his body was warm and his pulse still beating.
Zaitinkhuma, the secretary of Lalpa Kohhran thar, said Zion-a regained pulse beat after he was brought home from the hospital.
"His (Zion-a) body is still warm. His family members and people of Chhuanthar in Baktawng village can't bury him under such circumstances," he said.
According to Chhuanthar village council president Ramzuava, over 2,500 members belonging to 433 families form part of the sect, which was founded by the Zion-a's uncle around 70 years ago. Most members of the sect practise carpentry for a living.
"All of them hold the septuagenarian in high regard, and would not want to perform his last rites until they are convinced that he is gone," Ramzuava added.
Chief Minister Zoramthanga had extended his condolences on Sunday, upon hearing about the septuagenarian's death, and tweeted, "With heavy heart, Mizoram bid farewell to Mr Zion-a (76), believed to head the world's largest family...Rest in Peace Sir."
State congress president Lal Thanhawla and Zoram Peoples Movement (ZPM) leader Lalduhoma among others also mourned his demise.
Zion-a's four-storey mansion at Baktawng is a major tourist attraction. His family was featured twice by 'Ripley's Believe it or not' in 2011 and 2013. — PTI
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