Budget 2023: The Annual Halwa Ceremony To Be Held Today
Image Credit: Budget Halwa Ceremony 2021 Ministry Of Finance/Twitter

Though the world of finance and food rarely intersect (unless when it comes time to pay the bill), there is an unlikely crossover when it comes to the annual Union Budget meeting. The Halwa Ceremony is a custom that dates back many years and marks the send-off for Ministry of Finance Officials and staff before they enter their ten-day lock-in period. Held on the 26th of January this custom is a moment of levity before officials are restricted to the ministry as they prepare the government’s annual statement, completely cut off from the outside world to ensure the utmost secrecy.

The ceremony during which the Finance Minister – Nirmala Sitharaman – stirred a large kadhai filled with halwa is back after a short hiatus due to the pandemic. During this time, employees were gifted sweets as a token instead. It seems like everyone is glad to have the old tradition back again with the Ministry announcing, “The Halwa ceremony, marking the final stage of the Budget preparation process for Union Budget 2023-24, will be held for tomorrow in the presence of Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. @nsitharaman, in the Budget Press, situated inside North Block,”.

Though the Halwa Ceremony dates back many years, in 2019 Minister Sitharaman also reinstituted the carrying of the ‘bhai kata’, a traditional Indian folder instead of the more Westernised briefcase or Gladstone Box in an attempt to distance the proceedings from their colonial past. Perhaps it appears to be just a formality or gesture, but the Halwa Ceremony is a reflection of India’s long past and proud heritage. It shows that the proceedings are off to a sweet and prosperous beginning.