Once upon a time in the Iranian city of Shiraz, there lived the famous poet Sheikh Saadi. Like most other poets and philosophers, Sheikh Saadi was not a rich man. He led a very simple life. A rich merchant of Shiraz invited Sheikh Saadi along with a lot of other big businessmen of the town on the occasion of his daughter’s marriage which was to be a grand affair. Sheikh Saadi accepted the invitation and decided to attend.
On the day of the wedding, the host and his family were receiving the guests at the gate. They were ushering all the guests towards the dining hall. All the rich people of the town attended the wedding. They had come out in best of their attires. Sheikh Saadi wore simple clothes which were neither grand nor expensive. He waited in a corner for someone to approach him but no one gave him as much as even a second glance. Even the host did not acknowledge him and looked away. Seeing all this, Sheikh Saadi quietly left the party and went to a shop from where he could hire clothes. There he chose a richly brocaded dress which was embroidered in gold on the margins. He selected a fancy turban and a waist-band to go with it. As he put on the hired dress and looked into the mirror, he found himself a changed person.
With this, he entered the dining hall and this time was welcomed with open arms. The host embraced him as he would do to an old friend and complimented him on the clothes he was wearing. On seeing him, he said, “And here comes our favourite poet. What took you so long, friend? We have been waiting for you for ages! How good of you to have come. The gathering surely would have been incomplete without your gracious presence!” Saadi did not utter a word and allowed the host to lead him to the dining room where other guests had assembled. Tasty dishes had been laid out on grand carpets. Saadi was offered a seat with soft cushions. The food was served in fine crockery and cutlery made out of silver.
The host led Sheikh Saadi by hand and himself served out the chicken soup and the fragrant rice to him. After this, something strange happened. Sheikh Saadi dipped the corner of his waist-coat in the soup and sprinkled some rice on it. Addressing the clothes, he said: “This is a feast for you, you should enjoy it.”
All the guests were now staring at him in surprise. The host said, “Sir, what are doing? How can your colthes eat? And why should they? To this query, Sheikh Saadi very calmly replied: “My dear friend, I am indeed surprised with the question coming from you.”
“Aren’t you the same person who did not even throw a look at me when I came dressed in simple clothes. I can guess that it is my clothes and appearance that matter with you, not my individual worth. Now that I have put on grand clothes, I see a world of difference in reception here. All that I can now say is that this feast is meant for my clothes, not for me.”