Minister of State for Finance and senior officials of the Finance Ministry on Monday observed the symbolic 'Halwa Ceremony' to mark the launch of formal printing of documents relating to the Union Budget 2019.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, however, missed the customary pre-Budget event as he is currently in the US for a medical check up.
The NDA government on February 1, would unveil the interim Budget for 2019-20 as the general elections are due in the next couple of months.
The final Budget for the next fiscal would be presented by the new government.
"Halwa Ceremony was held today in North Block, New Delhi to mark the Ceremonial beginning of printing of #Budget2019 documents- Both the MoS (Finance) Shiv Pratap Shukla and Pon Radhakrishnan jointly launched the ceremony and shared the Halwa with the Ministry officials, the finance ministry said in a tweet.
Finance Secretary AN Jha, Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, DIPAM Secretary Atanu Chakraborty and Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar too attended the customary pre-Budget event.
As part of the ritual, 'halwa' is prepared in a big 'kadhai' (large frying pot) and served to the entire staff in the ministry. The significance of the sweet dish is that after 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 in the Lok Sabha.
They are not even allowed to contact their near and dear ones through phone or any other form of communication, like e-mail.
Only very senior officials in the finance ministry are permitted to go home. In the run up to the Budget, Finance Ministry has started a series on Twitter providing definitions of various terms used in the budget seeking to educate general public about the budgetary process.