The panels are beautifully handcrafted with bright coloured paintings depicting stories not only from epics like Mahabharatha and Ramayana but also incidents from the life of Buddha, Jesus, Krishna Leela, Durga, Lakshmi,Mahavira and several others.
The artistes narrate the stories unfolding the closed doors of wooden panels which often comes in various sizes. The story ends with revealing the inner shrine that houses the God. Hence it is also called as Mobile Shrine.
But the tragedy is like other traditional art forms, this rare art form too is fast becoming extinct in these modern times with only a handful of artistes left who are practicing it.
Mangilal Mistri belongs to that dwindling tribe of Kumawats who is striving hard to protect this rare Rajasthani art form. 65-year-old Mangilal Mistri aided by his four sons continue to practice Kavad' in spite of facing severe hardships the prominent of them being the sky-rocketing prices of colours, scarcity of wood coupled with a lukewarm response from people.
"I have been practicing it since my childhood. I along with my family are dedicated to preserving this artform for the next generation. I start my work daily invoking the name of God. The unfolding shrine which in the end reveals the deity at the centre, captures the attention of the viewers. I feel happy in their appreciation,” added Mangilal, an artist hailing from Bansi, Rajasthan, who is settled in Udaypur for the past five decades.
Mangilal’s son Chandraprakash says: “We narrate incidents from mythologyand create Kavad using bark of mango, teak and other trees A very few number of artists are left struggling to preserve this rare art form and its high time the Government should take measures to help the artisans and also to protect this rare art form.”
The duo are suing this rare art form to educate villagers about several government schemes and current issues with the help of NGOs. The family members have even expertise in creating Rajasthan traditional puppets, mask making, wall paintings and others.