The traditional "halwa ceremony" observed ahead of Union Budget each year has been dropped for the first time this year in view of the COVID-19 situation, the Union government said on Friday, 28 January.
Instead, sweets will be provided to the core staff ahead of the budget announcement on 1 February. Further, the core staff will undergo a 'lock-in' at their workplaces.
"To mark the final stage of the Union Budget making process, sweets were provided to the core staff due to undergo “lock-in” at their workplaces, instead of a customary Halwa ceremony every year in view of the prevailing pandemic situation and the need to observe health safety protocols."Ministry of Finance
"To maintain the secrecy of Budget, there is a “lock-in” of the officials involved in making the Budget. Budget Press, situated inside North Block, houses all officials in the period leading up to the presentation of the Union Budget. These officers and staff will come in contact with their near and dear ones only after the Budget is presented by the Union Finance Minister in the Parliament," a press release by the Finance Ministry stated.
The budget will be presented, in a paperless form like the last time, by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Significance of the Halwa Ceremony
The customary Halwa Ceremony marks the commencement of the Union budget printing process.
The ceremony is held at the North Block in Delhi, and is attended by the Union finance minister.
The custom is performed every year before the “lock-in” process of Budget preparation begins.
The ceremony was conducted amid COVID-19 protocols last year as well, on 23 January.