"Thackeray used to say women should prefer a Rampuri in their purse rather than a lipstick," Sena's south region "vibhag pramukh" Ajay Chaudhry said, defending the initiative.
"The government has failed to provide security to women, so we are distributing these knives to help them defend themselves," he added.
According to law, a knife below six inch blade is permitted, a Sena member said. The knives distributed on Wednesday were China-made knives with three inches blade.
Asked if the Sena leadership was aware of the knives distribution programme, a senior Sena leader said the event was held at the local level.