Sugarcane has been grown in India for thousands of years, and the art of refining sugar was invented there. The English word sugar comes from a Sanskrit word sakhar, while the word candy comes from Sanskrit word khand (jaggery) - one of the simplest raw forms of sweet. Over its long history, cuisines of the Indian Subcontinent developed a diversified array of sweets. Some claim there is no other region of the world where sweets are so varied, so numerous, or so invested with meaning as the Indian Subcontinent.
In India's diverse languages, sweets are called by numerous names, one common name being Mithai (मिठाई). They include sugar, and a vast array of ingredients such as different flours, milk, milk solids, fermented foods, root vegetables, raw and roasted seeds, seasonal fruits, fruit pastes and dry fruits. Some sweets such as kheer are cooked, some like burfi are baked, varieties like Mysore pak are roasted, some like jalebi are fried, others like kulfi are frozen, while still others involve a creative combination of preparation techniques. The composition and recipes of the sweets and other ingredients vary by region. Mithai are sometimes served with a meal, and often included as a form of greeting, celebration, religious offering, gift giving, parties, and hospitality in India. On Indian festivals - such as Holi, Diwali, Eid, or Raksha Bhandan - sweets are homemade or purchased, then shared. Many social gatherings, wedding ceremonies and religious festivals often include a social celebration of food, and the flavors of sweets are an essential element of such a celebration.