What is the pre-Budget halwa ceremony?

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With the ministry of finance celebrating its traditional pre-Budget 'halwa ceremony', the 2017 Union Budget has been sent in for printing.

'Printing of Budget Documents relating to Union Budget 2017-18 to start today with Halwa Ceremony', the ministry of finance tweeted on Thursday.

What is the pre-Budget halwa ceremony?

As part of this ritual, which has continued for long, halwa is prepared in a big kadhai (large frying wok) and served to the entire staff in the ministry. The significance of the sweet dish is that once it is served, a large number of officials and support staff, who are directly associated with the Budget making and printing process, are required to stay in the ministry and remain cut off from their families till the presentation of the Budget by the minister in the Lok Sabha.

During this period the staff is not even allowed to contact their near and dear ones through phone or e-mails. Only very senior officials in the finance ministry are permitted to leave the premisis.

Around 100 officials are involved in the printing of the Budget and they will remain locked in the North Block office till the presentation of Budget. The "lock-in" which follows the 'halwa ceremony' is observed to maintain the secrecy of the Budget preparation process.

The Budget Press in North Block houses all these officials in the period leading up to the presentation of Union Budget in Parliament by the finance minister.

The Budget, which will be the third full-fledged Budget of the incumbent-National Democratic Alliance government, is scheduled to be unveiled in Parliament February 1.

The first Union Budget of Independent India was presented by R K Shanmukham Chetty on November 26, 1947.

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