gold leaf on an image of the Buddha will make you merit. You can make
merit for somebody else. Or make somebody else's prayers or vows stick.
And you sometimes have to, because women are not allowed to touch any
Buddha image. Here women are not even allowed on the platform; only
men. And often a man will perform the ritual of gold leaf rubbing for
his wife, his mother or sister. Sometimes for a total stranger. Which
in turn of course brings him merit.
Contrary to warnings in some guidebooks it is totally acceptable to
take pictures. Even with an image of the Buddha in the background. Nowadays
Burmese will even pose for each other's camera, while applying the gold