A sect has been defined as a small religious group that is usually a derivative of a larger organization. The members usually follow a leader who calls himself a ‘prophet’ or acts like an exclusive spokesperson for God. This leader has modified the teachings obtained from the original organization, and these doctrines are frequently considered radical and even heretical. Members of a sect are encouraged to separate themselves from the mainstream and often consider themselves to be chosen.
At the New Generation commune, located in Northeast India, the young people are expected to gather at 5:00 am for roll call before they begin singing and praising their leader. At night, there is a church service where the singing and dancing goes on for at least two hours. Anyone who can’t attend is supposed to watch it on tv, because New Generation has its own cable TV channel.
This commune thrives financially, unlike other villages right up the slope. Some say it’s due to their strict work ethic. Each morning after prayer, the members gather around the leader’s home, waiting for their work assignments. They are supposed to work for a few hours without pay and then work for themselves.
A man by the name of Ziona is the 71year old leader who rules over the group. It is said that he has the biggest family in the world. His family consists of 165 members of which 38 are his wives. In addition to his large family, this man also has over 1,000 followers. All of them believe that he can endow them with immortality. In fact, children are required to go to church on Sundays to guarantee this state.
Most of the members of the commune believe that either Ziona is God or that the words he speaks come directly from God. Some of them call him their supreme leader.
Ziona does not allow himself to be filmed or seen by outsiders neither by the hundreds of tourists that pay a fee to explore the ground floor of his home.
Ziona’s father founded the sect in the 1940s when he and his brother were shunned from their community for heresy. The land where the family lived in exile is now considered sacred and the commune is located close by.
Although the New Generation members constantly refer to themselves are Christians, there are no images or paintings of Christ, crosses, or bibles to be found anywhere. On the farm there are a number of seemingly random statues. The most revered one is of a lion.
This certainly isn’t your average Christian congregation but what does Ziona himself say? Does he think he is God?