Budget 2023: FM Nirmala Sitharaman dons red silk saree on Budget Day

Nirmala Sitharaman carried a tablet in the traditional ‘bahi khata’-style pouch, with the national emblem embossed on it, as she headed to Parliament to present her fifth budget

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Screen grab of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wearing red saree with a black border and golden leaves printed, known as a temple border.

The sartorial choice of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who presented the 2023 Union Budget on Wednesday for one hour and 26 minutes, was in line with previous years as she chose to go with a dark red classic Kanjivaram temple border silk saree, with a matching blouse. Like previous years, she also wore a gold pendant, bangles, and a bindi. 

Temple borders are characterised by golden leaves or geometric patterns inspired from the structure of the temple. Temple border sarees are made of cotton, silk or a mix of both. Sitharaman’s saree had black border and intricate golden work. The FM’s choice of attire had scores of people on social media trying to find subliminal signals.

Known for her love for handloom, the FM had embraced the traditional bahi khata (bookkeeping) in 2019, the year she took charge as FM, moving away from the leather briefcase, which had till then been the norm for decades. During the pandemic years, the tablet replaced the bahi khata, but the device was adorned with a pouch that resembles the good old cloth used to wrap ledger papers.

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To present her fifth budget, Sitharaman carried a tablet in the traditional ‘bahi khata’-style pouch, with the national emblem embossed on it, as she headed to Parliament.

Sarees and symbols

For her first Budget presentation in 2019, Sitharaman wore a simple pink Mangalgiri saree, with a gold border. Since Pink is usually seen as the colour symbolising women empowermentand, it was concluded after her presentation that her choice of attire reflected the Budget 2019’s theme of ‘Nari tu Narayani’ (woman you are a Goddess).

In 2020, Sitharaman opted for a bright yellow-gold Pochampally silk saree with ikat patterns around the pallu and a green border. Pochampally ikat is traditionally made in Bhoodan Pochampally in Telangana, which is popularly known as the ‘silk city of India’.

In 2021, For her third budget presentation, Sitharaman donned a crisp red-coloured saree with off-white detailing and gold border. She completed her look with a gold chain and bangles and tiny earrings.

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For the Union Budget 2022, Sitharaman was dressed in a rust and maroon handloom saree. It was a Bomkai saree, typically made in Sonepur district of Odisha. Like previous years, Sitharaman’s choice of outfit for the 2023-2024 Budget reflected her quest to promote Indian textile, particularly the handwoven fabrics.

Jaitley’s kurtya pyjama

This was the last budget of the Modi government before the 2024 General Elections. For the first budget (interim budget) of the government presented in 2014, then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had worn a white churidar kurta pyjama with a pale yellow Nehru jacket. His only accessory was the cherry-red budget briefcase.

In 2015, the colour of Jaitley’s Nehru jacket changed to blue. His kurta pyjama was swapped for trousers and a light blue shirt. The briefcase changed to a caramel coloured case, which the then FM flashed for photo-ops before presenting the Budget. In 2016, Jaityley’s Nehru jacket changed colour again to powder blue and the kurta pyjama came back. The briefcase again underwent a change and this time was of a deeper tan hue.