The Kaavad custom is a roughly 400-year-old tradition whose reference is possibly made to the Kaavad in Tarikh- i-Firoz-Shahi of Afif, where it is referred to as a Muhrik - a tablet made of wood covered with illustrations. The Kumawats are a caste of craftsmen based in Bassi in the Bhilwara region near Udaipur, Rajasthan, who have traditionally been involved with this craft for generations.
The Kaavad is a transportable wooden temple or shrine that has illustrative stories on its multiple plates that are hinged together. These sections open and close like doors replicating the several entrances of a temple. These figures are often of divine beings made into portable temples, which tell numerous mythological tales.
“The fundamental configuration of the Kaavad is made of soft, low concentration wood - usually adusal, meetha neem or salar - the surface imperfections of which are packed with a concoction of sawdust, and a bonding agent. The temple being created is then dried, and sanded, later layered with khaddi, a type of soil found in Bhilwara region, which acts as a primer, and gives the object a shell white hue,” reveals the seasoned carver of these holy Kaavads, who believes that this is the only portable shrine which comes to the devotee, rather than the devotee going to the temple.