Taoist ceremonies for the dead often include an altar upon which are placed a sacred lamp, two candles, tea, rice, and water. The sacred lamp symbolizes the light of wisdom, yet it could also be referred to as the Golden Pill or Elixir of Immortality. On each side of the lamp are two tall candles that symbolize the light of the sun, moon, and both eyes of the human body. The tea, rice and water are put in cups in front of the altar. The tea symbolizes yin, water is the energy of the yang, and rice represents the union of the yin and the yang.
Five plates of fruit are used to symbolize the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. These elements are further equated with specific colors: green, red, yellow, white, and black. These elements all go in a cycle that when balanced ensure that the body is healthy. An incense burner is placed in the middle of the five elements. The burning of the incense represents refinement and purification of the soul, also known as the inner energies.
The ceremony usually takes place in a person’s house and is held over an odd number of days, usually three, five or seven days. The candle is lit up for the body all that time before burial. During the vigil and the funeral the relatives wear white.