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Not much of the rich and great history of Manickpur is documented. It is only passed on through the generations by word of mouth. There are instances of this village in some old manuscripts.
In some old Portuguese manuscripts, this place was called 'puri', no explanation is found on why it was called so. One of the assumptions is that earlier there might have been a temple on the lines of the Jagannath Temple in Puri in Orissa, and hence this place was named so. In Portuguese and English manuscripts this place was also referred to as porim.
This name gradually changed to manickpuri, there is no instance of any written documentation on this. It is also said that many South Indians settled here due to the proximity of Bombay (as it was earlier known) which was rich in terms of industries, mills and factories. The name then gradually changed from Porim to Manickpurm.
When the railway was laid by the British, the station that is now known as Vasai Road was then known as Manickpur Road. So it was through the British that the name changed to its present status. Actually the Vasai Road station was known as Bassein road after renaming Manickpur road. Still the Indian railways refer Vasai Road as Bassein road, even the station indicators show this.
Geographically or Topographically as you may call it, Manickpur is situated on a hillock and the base is of stone therefore it is believed to have very strong foundations. Hence it has withstood many floods and also earthquakes.
The main inhabitants of the village of Manickpur can be sub-divided into four categories: Kunbi, Khumbar, Vadval and Koli.
Kunbis were the original inhabitants of this village. Starting from the Parvati Cross to the Chowk, Fadbao, Kharbao, Chinchkombda to Naupada is where these people originally built their houses. Almeida, Colaco, Lopes, Menezes are some of the surnames associated with these people.
Khumbars lived across the Talao or the pond of Manickpur in line with the Church Road as the materials for making earthenware was easily found here. D'souza, D'mello, Gracias, Pereira, Alphanso are some of the surnames associated with Khumbars.
Vadvals lived to the south of the church. This place was called Barampur. They were engrossed with agriculture and related activities. Ghosal, Carval, Vaz, Cerejo are some of the surnames associated with Vadvals.
Kolis lived along the creek and carried out the business of fishing. Shivachya Gharacha, Ghastya are some of the surnames associated with this community.
The people of Barampur (the Vadvals) would marry people in the south of Vasai. Khumbars have their streak from Agashi to Marol. Kunbi's would find their spouses within the nearby villages of Chulne, Gokhivere and mostly within Manickpur.
Even though Manickpur was built on stony land, there was sweet, semi-salty and salty land around it. Similarly there were Salt pans across it. The number of people of Manickpur actually working in the saltpans was very low, but those engaged in associated activities was high. Transportation of salt and the making of wooden covers for salt were some of the activities. Sutar-ali (carpenters), Kumbhar-ali (potters), and Kolis (fishing) were engaged in their traditional activities. The railway added to their source of income.
Teachers, clerks, railway workers, welders, fitters, mechanics, etc. used to frequently travel to Mumbai by train.
In the field of literature too, Manickpur was at the forefront. Rock Carvahlo was an award winning Journalist and a Poet and also the first Journalist from Vasai. Fr. J. S Miranda started the Shod-Bhod news letter. Then Shanti Doot a magazine was published first in Manickpur later transformed to the present day popular 'Suvarta' magazine.
Manickpur was ahead in many of the other fields as well, Manickpur Urban Co-Operative Credit Society, St. John D'Britto D'Ed College, St. Xavier's Technical Institute, The Alcoholics Anonymous, etc. Franco Sanjav Dsouza was the first student from Vasai to receive the award of Best Catholic Student for the year 2005-06 for completing diploma in mass communication and event management in Marathi from Xavier's Institute Of Communication(XIC).
The magic of street plays was brought on to spread awareness by Dr. Dominic Lopes and now carried on by Juran Lopes and his troupe, Nav Nirmiti. Rasik Ranjan, a group of enthusiastic actors, was formed in the early 1970s and died a natural death towards late 1985, as most of them started to earn and devote more time towards their families. This group was rejuvenated in 2004. Since then, Rasik Ranjan has not looked back, staging one play or act each year and also trying to involve as much as the youth of Manickpur to showcase their talents.
Reginald Fernandes inauguration, a man from Goa, came to Manickpur when he was ten years old and transformed the entire village, as well as Vasai, with his music. He started the St. Anthony's Sangeet Mandal and taught music and the values governing life to the children of Manickpur. With his inspiration, many of the children of Manickpur are serving the Lord.
It was 10 October 1946 when Reginald Fernandes, a young man, came from Goa to be a choir master invited by the late Rev. Fr. D'cunha for a period of just two months. He then transformed the village with his melodious sounds and warm affection. The people of Manickpur convinced him to stay on forever. When Fr. Ignatius D'souza was the parish priest of Manickpur, he formed the St. Anthony's Sangeet Mandal on 13 June 1947.
There were plays performed to entertain the parishioners and also a jazz band was formed for the weddings held in the village. The band His Jolly Brothers was famous from Manickpur to Agashi to Koliwada. Interestingly, the average age for the band members was 20!
When Pope John Paul II came to India in 1987 for a Eucharistic Congress in what was then Bombay, there was a programme of prayers by the Pope when he came to Vasai. The entire responsibility for the singing was taken on by Master Reginald. This was the first time that Marathi singing accompanied prayers. From here on, Master Reginald was called to each and every parish of Vasai to teach them Marathi singing and songs.
First cassette of wedding songs named "Varad Ghara" (The house hosting wedding) was launched by William Misquitta and Franco Sanjav Dsouza. The songs in this cassette were rare songs. The lead singers of this cassette were Alex Colaco & Lucy Martin. The cassette was inaugurated by Master Reginald Fernandes on 1st November 1997.
The choir members ranged in age from 6 to over 70. The choir members expertise themselves in playing many musical instruments, such as the keyboard, guitar, violin, tabla, trumpet, saxophone, mouth organ, sitar and flute. It is considered as one of the best choirs in Vasai. During festivals like Christmas, parish feasts, Easter, the Feast of Mother Mary, the Lent period, specially on Good Friday, non-Catholics from all over Vasai also go to Manickpur Church to listen to their music and singing.
History of St. Michael's Church
The Jesuits lived in the Vasai Fort and had the parishes of Papdy, Sandor and Manickpur in their control. Up to 1605, people from Manickpur used to go to Sandor to celebrate the Eucharistic. But since it was far, the priests established a chapel in Manickpur in 1606. This chapel was made out of wood and had toddy leaves thatched as roof. Until 1608, priests from Sandor used to come and celebrate mass and preach. Alexeo Menezes, Archbishop of Goa, then bifurcated the parishes of Manickpur and Sandor.
The land used to build the chapel at Manickpur was donated by a Portuguese lady, Dona Ines Francisca, to the Jesuits in 1572. The Jesuits had to sell off the land for some reasons unknown. It finally was bought by another Portuguese lady, Dona Philipa De Fonseca. She finally donated this land back to the Jesuits in her will when she died on 20 June 1625. Rev. Fr. Adrian D'silva started the building of the church, a task taken up by Rev. Fr. Manuel Perez and finally completed by Rev. Fr. Manuel D'costa.
In 1739, Manickpur was raided by the Marathas, who came in through the east, led by Chimnaji Appa. They destroyed all the churches that were on their way to Vasai Fort, and Manickpur was one of them. However it was later rebuilt in 1851 by Rev. Fr. E.R. Hull (reference to this can be found in B.M.H Vol. 1.P.5)
That year, the Jesuits fled the village and the diocesan priests took charge of the parish. They were in charge of the parish for almost 200 years, finally handing it over to the Jesuits in 1949. Since then, the Jesuits have run the parish.
- History section of http://www.manickpur.com
- January 2006 issue of Manik - the newsletter of St. Michael's Church, Manickpur
- Various talk sessions with priests and old people from in and around Manickpur
- Catholic Directory of the Archdiocese of Bombay, 1960, 1964 edition, by Msgr. Simon I. Pimenta on the occasion of the 38th International Eucharistic Congress in Bombay, Government Press, Nagpur.
- Catholic Directory of the Archdiocese of Bombay, 1960, 1982 edition, by Frs. Leslie J. Ratus & Fr. Errol Rozario, St. Pius X College, Goregaon, Bombay, 400063.