The word syukur is a loan word from Arabic shukran (شكراً) ‘thank you’. So, how is it different from terima kasih, which is the standard Indonesian phrase for ‘thank you’?
You never use syukur to say ‘thank you’. ‘Thank you’ is always terima kasih. But when you want to say ‘I am grateful’, then you may either say saya berterima kasih or saya bersyukur. The main difference between the two is that syukur has a religious undertone.
Syukur. (you can also emphasise it by adding -lah: syukurlah!)
Kenapa kamu tidak bersyukur?
Why aren’t you grateful?
To add even more emphasis, and give it a slightly stronger religious undertone, you can add alhamdulillah ‘praise God’ to syukur.
Aku mengucap syukur kepada Allahku setiap kali aku mengingat kamu.1
I thank my God every time I remember you. (Philippians 1.3)
As you can see from the above example, the religious undertone is not limited to a specific religion. Even though syukur is an Arabic word, it is used by Indonesians of all religions.
Syukur is also often used interchangeably with untung ‘fortunately, luckily’.
Untung/Syukur dia tidak datang.
Fortunately she didn’t come.
Untung/Syukur kita selamat.
Luckily we were unharmed.
In the two above examples, you can add the emphasising particle -lah to both untung as well as syukur.
A syukuran is an expression of gratitude to God by holding a ceremonial feast. Typical occasions for a syukuran are when someone has reached a goal in his/her life, like having graduated fom university (wisuda), being promoted, or celebrating the birth of a child.
The following is an invitation card to celebrate the first birthday of a baby girl.
1 Lembaga Alkitab Indonesia bible translation 1974