Part of my reasoning for starting this blog is to share anything I've learned about sugar with interested others. It turns out there is a festive, sugar-filled holiday that is celebrated on January 14 of each year in India, Sankranti. According to our friendly Wikipedia editors, "All over the country, Makar Sankranti is observed with great fanfare. However, it is celebrated with distinct names and rituals in different parts of the country."
In Southern India, the holiday is called "Pongal" and it is a major harvest festival, and I've been so lucky to have some Southern Indians come by my booth from time to time and tell me the story of how they use sugar to celebrate (which makes sense, given the sugar cane harvest there). I got back home and did some research, and I was so excited to see some of the beautiful sugar figures they make! Interestingly, their "Sakkare Acchu" molded sugars are made from a syrup (starting out liquid, unlike American-style cubes) that are then poured into wooden molds and often incorporate milk and yogurt, making them perishable, but also creamier than our traditional cubes. They are eaten, rather than dissolved in drink, from what I understand, like a candy, and are given to neighbors and friends.
There is a really great tutorial on how Sakkare Acchu are made on Colours of a Nomadic Life.
There is also a terrific, longer "how to" video on this, worth watching if only to curse yourself (like I did, watching it) for not being able to pull off a beautiful Sari as daily wear...: