From weddings to festivals, everything in India is a grand affair with multiple rituals and traditions, be it Laxmi puja or buying gold on Dhanteras. The Bombay Stock Exchange also opens amid holidays on October 24 for a Muhurat session ahead of Diwali. The union budget follows its own schedule with pre-budget meetings, a recess and the economic survey of India.
Auspicious beginnings to ward of economic gloom
But the halwa ceremony has been a significant tradition in the run up to the annual budget, even before a vahi khaata was carried to the parliament instead of a briefcase. The preparation and distribution of halwa or any kind of sweet is used for marking auspicious events in India, from weddings to birthdays and launch of a new venture. This is why the distributing halwa marks the beginning of the printing process for the final budget document.
Rewarding efforts behind the process
But while the halwa sweetens the deal, officials who are involved in printing of budget documents are to be locked inside North Block right after it. This is done to maintain secrecy till the budget presentation is over, and these officials remain cut off from the world, including their families for 10 days. The budget had been printed in North Block till 2020, after which it went paperless.
Interrupted but not forgotten
Although the pandemic didn't bog down spirits in 2021, the halwa ceremony was cancelled in January 2022, amid a third covid wave for India. This year the tradition is back in full swing, increasing the festive mood on Republic Day, although budget presentation moved on to iPads instead of printed documents.
Replacing old traditions with older ones
Apart from stirring the halwa to kick off the compilation of the budget, Nirmala Sitharaman is known from replacing a colonial tradition with an Indian one. In 2019 she dropped the British era leather briefcase, and instead arrived with the budget in a bahi khaata, which is a traditional account book wrapped in red cloth. But after carrying the vahi khaata for that year, Sitharaman embraced technology and moved on to the iPad.
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