Aila is strong liquor that is very symbolic to the people of Nepal. Not only is the liquor a must-have for the most important feasts, including the Newari feast of bhoye, it is also a necessity for religious rituals. Most of the liquor is homemade by women for Newari celebrations and it is done outside of the Nepal legal system. Aila is made from grain, with different grains producing different flavors. For a rich and smooth flavor, the liquor is made from rice. For a fiercer and stronger flavor, the women use kodo or millet.
The Newari people, especially older generations, consider aila to be one of the purest things in this world. Because of this view, the liquor has been a substantial part of all religious festivals. During rituals, the chosen one must first drink aila before the divinity will take over his body and allow him to carry heavy items and perform strenuous activities. At all feasts and celebrations, there is also a precise way to pour the aila. The drink must be poured from the anti (a gracefully spouted Newari jug) and into miniature clay cups which are called saillie, in order to test the grace and poise of the pourer.
Aila is made with a long list of ingredients which are mixed with marcha (an organic compound used for fermentation). After four or five days, the mixture will ferment and is called "jad." Jad can be and is often consumed as raw and strong liquor. Still, the process of the aila making has a long way to go from here. The preparation requires a set of clay and brass vessels that are specifically designed for this purpose. The vessels are called `phosi', `pottasi', `jaisa', `dowacha', and `aila bata.' The fermented jad is poured over a wood fire stove in order to distill it. The pottasi is placed on top of the phosi and the vapor is passed through numerous holes on the vessel. It is then cooled by the cold water in the vessel called the aila bata and changed into liquid droplets. These droplets are then collected in the dowacha and placed inside the potasi. The process is long and requires much attention. The taste of the overall liquor is determined by the amount of heat given to the phosi and the cold water in the aila bata.