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Monday, February 17, 2020

Explained: The customary halwa ceremony at Finance Ministry ahead of Budget

The tradition, which goes back several years, involves preparing the ‘halwa’ sweet dish in a big 'kadhai' (large frying pot) and serving it to the entire staff in the ministry.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: January 21, 2020 6:50:31 pm
Explained: Halwa ceremony at Finance Ministry The Union Finance Ministry held its traditional Halwa ceremony in its headquarters at North Block on Monday. (Source: Twitter/ Ministry of Finance)

The Union Finance Ministry Monday held its traditional Halwa ceremony in its headquarters at North Block. The ceremony marks the commencement of the printing process of the Central government’s budget. The function was presided over by Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, along with MoS Anurag Thakur.

The Budget is slated to be presented on February 1. The Ministry tweeted: “The Union Finance Minister, Smt. @nsitharaman presided over #HalwaCeremony today at North Block to mark the beginning of printing of #Budget2020 documents. MoS Shri @ianuragthakur was also present besides senior @FinMinIndia officials.”

Thakur also tweeted, “Today begins the Budgetary printing process w/ the Halwa Ceremony held in North Block. To maintain secrecy of the Budget, thr is a “lock-in” of officials involvd in the process at Budget press situated in North Block, which houses all officials until Budget day.”

The tradition, which goes back several years, involves preparing the ‘halwa’ sweet dish in a big ‘kadhai’ (large frying pot) and serving it to the entire staff in the ministry.

According to a PTI report, the significance of the sweet dish is that after it is served, a large number of officials and support staff, who are directly associated with the Budget making and printing process, are required to stay in the ministry and remain cut off from their families until the presentation of the Budget by the minister in the Lok Sabha.

Explained: Halwa ceremony at Finance Ministry The function was presided over by Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, along with MoS Anurag Thakur. (Source: Twitter/ Ministry of Finance)

Around 100 officials are involved in the printing of the Budget and they will remain “locked” in the North Block office till the presentation of Budget on 1 February.

They are not even allowed to contact their near and dear ones through phone or any other form of communication, like e-mail. Only very senior officials in the Finance Ministry are permitted to go home.

The “lock-in” which follows the ‘halwa ceremony’ is observed to maintain the secrecy of the Budget preparation process.

The Budget Press in North Block houses all these officials in the period leading up to the presentation of Union Budget in Parliament by the Finance Minister.

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