|"Auntie E" February 1, 1929 - May 26, 2012.|
Excerpt from Wikipedia:
Tōrō nagashi (灯籠流し) is a Japanese ceremony in which participants float paper lanterns down a river; tōrō is traditionally another word for lantern, while nagashi means "cruise, flow". This is...based on the belief that this guides the spirits of the departed back to the other world.
The white lanterns are for those who have died in the past year. Traditional Japanese beliefs state that humans come from water, so the lanterns represent their bodies returning to water.