Budget Halwa: An enduring tradition that promises to keep India’s budget ‘safe and guarded’

Union Ministers of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla and P. Radhakrishnan, Department of Economic Affairs Secretary S.C. Garg and Department of Expenditure Secretary Ajay Narayan Jha at the 'Halwa ceremony' in North Block at New Delhi on 21 January 2019IANS
  • The Ministry of Finance marked the beginning of the printing of the Budget 2019 by conducting the Halwa ceremony on Monday at New Delhi.
  • The Indian government will unveil the Interim Budget 2019 on February 1.
  • After the ceremony over 100 officials of finance ministry in India aren’t allowed to go home till the budget is reveal.
Every year, just weeks before the Indian government presents its annual budget, it follows an unusual annual tradition of the ‘halwa’ ceremony, the making of a popular Indian dessert to mark the official kick-off of events.

The Halwa Ceremony is hosted by the Finance Ministry usually held at North Block in New Delhi in the weeks leading up to the announcement budget.


Here’s what the ceremony means and how it got its start-
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​The Halwa Ceremony

​The Halwa Ceremony

Like every year, Ministry of Finance on Monday licked off the beginning of printing the interim budget 2019 documents by performing the Ceremony at the North Block in New Delhi. India’s Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley was absent from the symbolic ceremony as he was away to the US for a health check-up.

​The connection of Dessert and Budget making in India

​The connection of Dessert and Budget making in India

Halwa is a popular Indian dessert prepared from a mixture of semolina and sugar. Every year, the making of Halwa in North Block at New Delhi kicks off the process of printing budget.

​A promise to keep the budget guarded and safe

​A promise to keep the budget guarded and safe

The ritual of preparing Halwa in a large frying pot is important as after the ritual large number of officials and staff who were involved in making the budget are asked to stay in the North Block without any contact with families till the budget is presented in the lower house of the Parliament. Only senior officials are allowed to go home.

​​​The ceremony is enjoyed by finance minister and other officials of the ministry

​​​The ceremony is enjoyed by finance minister and other officials of the ministry

Although, there are no historical traces of when the ritual began, it has been the part of budget making process for a long time. The sweet dish is shared with all the officials and staff of ministry. The ceremony is attended by Finance Minister and other official who were involved in making the budget. Last year, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Union MoS Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla, Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and Department of Economic Affairs Secretary S.C. Garg were present at the Halwa ceremony.

The ceremony is held at same venue every year

The ceremony is held at same venue every year

The venue of the ceremony remains unchanged. The Halwa ceremony is held in North Block every year. Till 1950, the budget papers were printed in Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s Secretariat). However, the venue was moved to North Block following a leak and has been unchanged for the process of printing.

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