The traditional halwa ceremony is held ahead of the Budget presentation every year. This ceremony marks the last leg of the process with the commencement of the printing process of the Budget document.
As the custom goes, halwa is cooked in a big kadhai (cauldron) and then offered to the ministry's staff.
This is held in the North Block, finance ministry headquarters. The Union Finance Minister, the Minister of State, and other senior officials of the Ministry of Finance are also present during this ceremony.
The ceremony also acknowledges the efforts of all the staff members who are involved in the process of budget-making.
Last year, the halwa ceremony was not performed due to Covid protocols while the Budget went paperless.
After the ceremony, the staff members involved in the budget-making process move to the North Block’s basement for nearly 10 days.
Each year, the finance ministry follows an annual custom of hosting a halwa ceremony, which takes place a few days before the Budget is presented on the floor of Parliament. This commemorates the official start of events.
In 2019, the (then) Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was absent during the ceremony because of health complications. Therefore, the ceremony was launched by the two Ministers of State (Finance).
It is interesting to note that the Budget papers used to be printed in Rashtrapati Bhavan till 1950. But after a leak happened, the venue was shifted to North Block.
The ceremony might appear a small celebration but it is significant for the Ministry of Finance, bringing everyone — from clerk to the Cabinet minister — together.