usually 2 dates & time. 1, the dead will return with his friends & relatives quietly. the other visit, the guards, ox head & horse face (牛头马脸), will escort him back officially. for both the visits, the family is to prepare the deceased's favourite food & drinks. some families even throw flour or rice on the floor to see if there are any footprints after the visit. well, it's a custom that a sharp tool eg knife is to be thrown on the floor before the family can come out of their rooms to see. it's to frighten ' them ' away.
a friend whose dad passed off recently shared the following:
1. on the 1st visit, he'd 4 dreams: a. he felt cold wind & smelt hard liquor (his dad was a drinker). b. he, his elder brother & dad went shopping but eventually lost the old man. c. he & his dad went to their old factory & realised that many machines were put all over the place. d. his escalator was going down, his dad on the other escalator was going up. they met at a point. his dad said 'life is like a dream' (人生如梦)!
2. his relative who stayed for the night heard neighbour's dogs barked for a long time in weird tone. it's a belief that dogs can see 'things'.
3. the maid told the family the next day that the chicken meant as offerring for the visit dropped to the floor.
4. nothing happen on the 2nd visit.
a relative forgotten her late hubby's 2nd visit so didn't prepare any food/drinks. the next morning her kitchen was upside down.
another relative's late hubby drank half cup of the coffee she offerred.
someone said on the return night, chain sound was heard along the corridor. they trusted the guards chainned & escorted the deceased.
some said finger marks were spotted on some buns (pau).
if you're aware that someone has passed away & candles were lighted up at their door on a particular day. Stay Away, it's Soul Returning!