Religion 28 September 2016 11 4569
The members of this polygamous cult, located in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas, are in no doubt that God exists – he lives right next door to them.
Ziona Chana is famous for having the largest family in the world. It totals 163 members, including 38 wives. His polygamous family is not unique, however, as Ziona also leads a polygamous cult of over 1000 people, where male members can have as many wives as they please. Known as the “New Generation”, the cult was founded by Ziona’s father and uncle when they had an epiphany, and came to believe that the human body is immortal. Both are now dead, but the cult’s followers believe Ziona will live forever and worship him as their God.
The “New Generation” community was once a part of the neighbouring village of Baktwang, but the villagers decided to distance themselves from the cult members. Baktwang’s residents are wary of the cult’s ideology but envy its organisation and economic success. The latter is explained by tough discipline within the commune, where every member is expected to contribute to its prosperity. Besides, the unusual community with the record-breaking family is a honey pot for tourists, who give money to the cult.
RT Doc visits the “New Generation” cult to find out whether its followers really believe in immortality, how life in the commune is organised and what a man does to become God.