From “Stranger Inside: Immigrant Insights” by Croftwood Simmersale
I know two stories about the origin of the Sail Lighting Festival. The generally accepted meaning is a celebration; the gondoliers of Iruvian descent who are settled in the Ease choose to belong to Doskvol. The Onyxite led her Iruvian followers to Doskvol and burned the sails from their masts in a symbolic act of commitment to their new home, and ever after they navigated shallow boats in the shallow waters, eschewing the open sea.
To the boat families descended from Iruvia, the festival is more complicated. In the year 368 IE the Onyx Hermitage had been in Doskvol for three generations. The Conclave of U’Duasha sent them an emissary insisting that all vessels under Iruvian sailcloth must answer to Iruvia, and they required an arranged marriage to solidify ties with the homeland.
Myrsaka, the contemporary Onyxite, dramatically rejected their order. She demonstrated her command of the solidarity of her people by showing the emissaries every Iruvian sail in flames, the Ease burning a fortune for spite. That rebellion triggered a shadow war of assassinations in Doskvol and U’Duasha that lasted until Iruvia joined the empire as a tributary state over a century later. Myrsaka did not last a week after her symbolic act, but her many successors were steeled to resist because of her example.
They burn sails as a signal of their unity and their willingness to kill and die to keep the distance they earned from the tribal politics back home. They burn sails to signal that they are one tribe here, now, sacrificially if need be. This is not loyalty to Doskvol; it is loyalty to the other emigrants from Iruvia relocated in a strange and cold land. This is how they remind each other they choose resistance unto death rather than accepting an outsider’s orders.