Union Budget 2019: What is Halwa ceremony? When is it held and what is its significance?

Tradition plays its part in the preparation of the Union Budget. One of the photographs that most readers should be familiar with is of the Union Finance Minister stirring a huge 'kadhai' (frying pot) in which there is a bubbling halwa (sweet dish) being prepared in the  North Block in New Delhi. The North Block houses the finance ministry. The finance minister is surrounded by the other members of the ministry during the preparation of the halwa.

Nirmala Sitharaman, the first full-time Union finance minister, will present the Budget on 5 July.

For the interim Budget 2019, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was absent as he was away in the US for a health check-up.

 Union Budget 2019: What is Halwa ceremony? When is it held and what is its significance?

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget 2019 on 5 July. Image courtesy - FinMin

As part of the ritual, halwa is prepared in large quantities and served to the officers and support staff involved. It is also a time when everyone involved with the Budget — officials, clerks come together for the government's important financial statement.

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 preparation and printing process, are required to stay in the basement of the North Block and remain cut off from their families till the presentation of the Budget in the Lok Sabha.

Until 1950, the Budget papers were printed in Rashtrapati Bhavan. However, the venue was moved to the North Block after certain portion of the budget was leaked. The North Block basement has since remained the venue for printing the Budget since then.

The printing of Budget documents starts roughly a week ahead of presenting in the Parliament after the customary halwa ceremony.

Follow full coverage of Union Budget 2019-20 here

Updated Date: Jul 04, 2019 17:16:06 IST