Tahara is the process of washing, and cleansing the physical body of the deceased. This process has a few different elements within the whole Tahara portion.
First, the meit/meitah (male/female) is gently washed and bathed. Then, the next step is the purification process, which would represent a ritual washing, which is similar to a mikvah. This portion represents the person being cleansed from the physical things of this world and being clean as they prepare to go to the world to come.
The meit/meitah (male/female) is then dressed in a special garment that is called tachrichim (burial shroud). The tachrihim that the deceased is dressed in symbolizes a priestly garment. The deceased is then carefully placed in the aron (casket) and moved to either the room where shmira is being done or a cooling chamber if in a funeral home. The beauty of this process is the respect and gentle care the deceased is given by those who are in their own community.
He/she is cleansed with the utmost honor, dignity, respect and care that one can give. The men take care of the men. The women take care of the women so respect can be given to each gender. If men are not available, then the women can take care of the men. The men do not take care of the women.
The entire time this process is done there is liturgy that is recited. The liturgy is generally readings from the Song of Songs with some readings from appropriate Psalms.
Tachrihim - Burial Garments
After a Tahara (washing) has been performed, the deceased is then placed in a special burial garment called Tachrihim, then in a special wrap called a shroud.