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Budget 2024: What is the 'Halwa Ceremony' held before every budget announcement?

The event is a significant step in finalising the extensive budget-making process that spans several months.

Written By: Akshit Tyagi New Delhi Published on: January 19, 2024 12:29 IST
Halwa Ceremony
Image Source : PIB Halwa Ceremony 2023

Budget 2024: The "Halwa Ceremony" is a traditional pre-budget event in India that is performed every year before the “lock-in” process of the budget. It marks the formal commencement of the printing process for various documents related to the budget. The ceremony is a significant step in finalising the extensive budget-making process that spans several months.

During the ceremony, which has been a longstanding tradition, a large wok (kadhai) is used to prepare halwa, a popular Indian dessert. The Finance Minister plays a central role in the ceremony by stirring the kadhai and serving the sweet dish to officials and staff from the Finance Ministry.

The Halwa Ceremony is conducted in the basement of the North Block of the Finance Ministry in Central Delhi, where a specialised printing press is situated. This event holds particular importance in maintaining secrecy and preventing any leaks related to the budget before its official presentation.

To ensure the utmost confidentiality, the North Block basement is transformed into a highly secure area resembling a fortress. Approximately 100 officials and staff members directly involved in the budget-making or printing process are isolated from the outside world until the budget is officially presented. Stringent measures include round-the-clock surveillance by the Intelligence Bureau, no direct contact with family members, supervised phone calls in case of emergencies, a robust network of CCTVs, electronic jammers to prevent information leaks, foolproof cybersecurity, and restricted mobile phone usage, even for high-ranking officials, inside the basement.

The tradition of the Halwa Ceremony dates back to 1950, and it underwent changes in the printing locations to enhance security and confidentiality. Following a budget leak in 1950, the printing press was relocated from Rashtrapati Bhavan to Minto Road and later to the North Block basement, which has been the permanent printing press location since 1980.

READ MORE: Budget 2024: Key differences between interim and regular budget

READ MORE: Budget 2024: Key terms you should know before the announcement

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